Differently abled students need to be placed in the same classroom and taught the same material by the same teacher to increase equal accessibility to the overall curriculum, improve social interactions and heightens expectations for students with disabilities and amends societal attitudes towards students with disabilities.
The current norm is of a lack of education about disabilities among students that make them less understanding and at times explicitly un-empathetic to their peers with disabilities. This ignorance gives way to a negative classroom environment which might include bullying of the differently abled students.
In any classroom, there may be students with apparent disabilities and those with more dormant ones, apart from the disabilities that are temporary, relapsing and remitting, or long-term but recurring. The disabilities can include physical disabilitiesvision impairments, hearing loss; or learning disabilities such as ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), dyslexia, or dyscalculia, mobility disabilities; or chronic health disorders such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, or multiple sclerosis, or even Psychological or psychiatric disabilities that include mood, anxiety and depressive disorders, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain Injury, Asperger’s disorder and other Autism spectrum disorders. By including understanding of disability and “ableism” alongside multicultural education has a potential to guide the students and provide them with tools they need to be more understanding of diversity.
Because of the larger effect on development, it has been established that the environment handicaps an individual with a disability more than the actual impairment. Individuals with disabilities face negative attitudes early in life making the holistic development process challenging. Disability awareness programs educate students to foster and nourish positive attitudes and acts as solution to end ignorance.
Schools are established not only for intellectual development, but also to include a social component. It is critical to educate children at a young age about disability because it plants the idea early that the difference among human beings does not necessarily mean they are less capable of doing something.
If the problems are addressed at an early age, we can help prevent potential victims from being socially ostracized. Teaching pre-schoolers about disabilities is an opportunity not to be missed and it is not a hard task if we engage the disabled people—rather differently abled—in explaining their disabilities to students. They should be the ones to determine the message conveyed and can answer questions that children may have about those who are different.
As the classroom authority figure, altering attitude begins with the teacher. The first impression of a child with unfamiliar peers are influenced by a teacher. This influence will need to be supported by the administration and their obligation to supply materials and opportunities for all teachers to further their professional development and learn how to teach students with special needs. Understanding is the first step and children will be curious, allow them a safe place to ask questions. Focus must be on the child’s strengths. We need to move past awareness after a point, we don’t just want the children to be aware, but also want to be accepted and included. Inclusion means contributing, not just passively watching and participating. Efforts must be made to change vocabulary that is sensitive and respecting children.
It is essential to use language that prioritizes the learner over his or her disability. Disability labels can be stigmatizing and perpetuate false stereotypes about capability. Take the pledge to use “ableism” friendly language, rather than trying to justify it. Special needs parents also have to be reached out to, as these children don’t often get invited to gathering and life could get very isolating sometimes. Adding bullying and differences to family conversation as it seems to be on everyone’s radar these days. Encourage children to reach out to be a friend and a hero. Sometimes all it takes is one strong person to stand up and voice out to end a pattern of bullying.
Often, people are intimidated by the unknown and it might be less convenient for teachers and students, in the beginning, to learn about and embrace the disabled student populations at their schools. But there is no constitutional right to be free from inconvenience. This is where they also must understand that for the students with disabilities, the classroom setting may also present certain challenges and both parties need to make accommodations and have enough consideration for the other.
Individuals will be more likely to carry prejudices with them through life, hindering the inclusion of people with disabilities into society if they have not developed a positive attitude and an acceptance of disabilities during their early years of school.
Inclusion is the least expensive, most efficient method of teaching students. Inclusion is best custom. It is also, quite simply just and the morally right way to teach.