Potential Problems with Inclusion

Potential Problems with Inclusion

1. Placement without planning. Improvements in social behavior will probably not simply happen regardless of placement. Simply exposing students with autism to typically developing peers will not lead to acquisition of targeted social behaviors. Socialization interventions must be formally planned for general education settings, and they must be based on relevant ecological and functional assessment data.

2. Placement without objectives. Sometimes, particularly for students with autism who are educated in separate classes for much of the day, access to the general education class is determined by existing activities (e.g., lunch, recess, story time, library, PE) that “would be good for” the students with autism. Certainly, special educators need to take advantage of those existing activities as opportunities for students with autism—but with careful planning of instructional goals for the student with autism during those activities. Thus, general education activities should be selected by the individualized educational program team, along with the instructional objectives that will be taught in those activities and the instructional methods that will be used.

3. Placement with overreliance on adult support. The push for students with disabilities to spend all or most of their day in general education has led to significant increases in the number of paraprofessionals being employed to support those students in general education classes (Giangreco et al., 2004). Unfortunately, reliance on paraprofessionals as the primary support for special education services may be ill advised for many reasons, including concerns about training and preparation of paraprofessionals for these roles (Giangreco, 2009). Research has demonstrated detrimental effects of one-to-one support for students with disabilities, including lower levels of teacher and peer interactions directed toward the student with a disability, isolation within the general education classroom, insular relationships between the students and the paraprofessional, and increased dependency on the paraprofessional (Giangreco, 2009; Giangreco et al., 2004).

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