Inclusion may not always be good
Could the "normal" environment be a problem?
Many parents and educators are steadfast advocates for having their children or students included in the general education situation. That's a great goal. Of course, we want our kids with disabilities to be a part of their school or neighborhood.
Our kids will naturally be attracted to other kids in the ‘hood. They’re kids! Kids want to play with other kids. Duh!
If a chid with a disabiity is out in the yard or on a playgrond and other kids are nearby, I bet the probability of interactions among them is high. You go, kids!
I certainly support the idea that, if (as a parent) my kid has a disability, she still should be welcome to play with other kids in the neighborhood. Inclusion!
As a teacher, I would also hope that my students have access to lots of opportunties to connect with their peers. They should have access to regular school events and facilities (assemblies, field days, restrooms!). Inclusion!
To be sure, as a parent or teacher, I'd want my child to interact appropriately, and I'd work to teach my child (and the neighbor kids, in coordination with their parents) to interact appropriately. Inclusion!
These concerns lead me to a question about “appropriately,” though, from a different perspective. The question is not about simple access (i.e. “inclusion”); it's about whether gaining access is beneficial. And, I’m thinking about inclusion with regard to individuals with disabilities being included in general education settings; “inclusion” in the broader sense (e.g., including members of diverse ethnic groups) is another topic.
Is normalization or inclusion beneficial when an inclusive environment or situation is not healthy for children with (or even without) disabilities? What if “access,” “inclusion,” or “normalization” was, in fact, harmful?
Do we really want students with disabilities to have access to the general curriculum? What if that curriculum is hopelessly flawed or faulty? Is “inclusion” helpful?
Should we advocate for access to the general education curriculum if it's not going to help our kids? Do we want to seek placement of our kids in situations that do not employ evidenced-based practices, programs, and procedures?
Does general education offer effective reading instruction
Does general education offer effective writing instruction
Does general education offer effective social-interaction instruction
Does general education offer effective artithmetic instruction
Said another way, what if the general education situation is poop? Should we protect our kids from it? Should we help reform it?
So, “inclusion?” Maybe not so much, not all the time.