Children with special needs, such as disabled or mentally ill children, were often discriminated against in the past. They were segregated and unable to study with other children in the same classes; sometimes, they were totally excluded from all facilities. Various reasons explain such discrimination, but none could justify the wrong attitude toward disabled children. Creating schools with special needs was the first step to their inclusion into society, followed by integration: allowing them to visit a regular school.
The Integration Process Stages
The first step to overcoming the exclusion of children with special needs was segregation. It means that children with special needs were allowed to attend kindergartens and schools but not with their other peers, only with those who have special needs too. It continued the Middle Age practice of teaching disabled children by monks (Kashyap, 2021). Segregation is close to exclusion: children with special needs are still not allowed to have equal rights with the majority, thus being discriminated against. In the 19th century United States, the first school for deaf children was established (Kashyap, 2021). There were various reasons for the exclusion, including the claims that it would be better for the children themselves, as they are studying with those who have similar problems (Dukes & Berlingo, 2020). However, special schools’ practice was mainly a failure: their efficiency was lower than those of general schools, and the staff’s attitudes toward students were often wrong and prejudiced (Kashyap, 2021). In that way, further improvement of their well-being was necessary to grant them all fundamental human rights and opportunities.
Integration and inclusion are the last steps when special-needs children are accepted in all studying institutions. Integration is a process when children are accepted into regular schools but not into general classes: there are special ones for them (Kashyap, 2021). They were introduced when the authorities recognized that people with special needs might also be helpful for society, as they can work (Sónia, 2012). Thus, providing a required primary education for everyone became a rule, and special classes emerged in regular schools.
However, it was done mainly for the benefit of society, not for children with special needs. For that reason, they still did not have equal opportunities with regular children. Inclusion is the last step in the integration process when the core principle is the children’s equity with other members of society. It means that they are allowed to visit regular classes and receive special care, which is necessary for them to feel well and be able to study. Thus, a successful inclusion process requires teachers who are familiar with the special needs of those children, such as their deafness, blindness, or mental issues, and can teach them about those needs. (Dukes & Berlingo, 2020). The victory of modern legislation is that such children are included in society.
The process of segregation, as mentioned, is the first stage of the integration process for children with special needs. It is the creation of special schools where such children may receive education along with the necessary care. There were teachers who provided it to them, and children usually learned only a limited set of subjects that were considered suitable for them (Kashyap, 2021). In that way, why was I unable, for example, to receive a job after graduation that was available for regular alumni? Only a few jobs were available, and they were seen as inappropriate for most regular jobs, let alone the possibility for career growth. In addition, they mostly felt unequal treatment from early childhood, as teachers in special schools also often recognize them only as limited and pitiful human beings (Sónia, 2012). In that way, while segregation is a step ahead in providing educational opportunities for children with special needs, compared with their total exclusion, it is still discriminative and needs to be improved.
Segregation is necessary for overcoming exclusion and providing children with disabilities a place for studying. However, it is only the stage and should eventually be substituted by integrating such children into the regular studying process. While providing them with the basic ability to study and further opportunities to integrate into society, the widespread of special schools leads to the marginalization of children with disabilities. They were still treated as a social group with fewer opportunities opened for them. Modern views toward children with special needs are much more favorable due to various social movements for their rights (Sónia, 2012). For example, at the 2000 World Education Forum, the need to organize equal and inclusive education for such kids was widely discussed. Thus, the world is moving from segregation to the total inclusion of special-needs children into social life.
Thus, while segregation is the first step toward equity between children with special needs and regular ones, it has not solved all the problems facing them. They still were a minor unequal social group, with most of the opportunities still closed, and in addition, the treatment toward them in special schools often was prejudiced. Their integration was the next necessary stage to do that by granting them the right to study in ordinary schools, despite still being in special classes.
Dukes, C., & Berlingo, L. (2020). Fissuring barriers to inclusive education for students with severe disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 45(1), 14–17. Web.
Kashyap, A. (2021). The transition from segregation to inclusion. Kashyap Academy. Web.
Sónia, L. (2012). From exclusion to inclusion going through segregation and integration: The role of the school and of the socio-pedagogical mediator. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69, 47–53. Web.