Learning Disability Students Research Proposal

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Inclusion for Children With Autism: Both Sides of the Story

For the past several decades, full classroom inclusion has been the standard for the education of children with learning disabilities. This practice is based on the belief that inclusion in the regular classroom setting will automatically result in positive outcomes for the learning disabled student, as they will seek to mimic the behaviors of the general school population. This may be true for some learning disabilities. However, for children with autism, evidence is mounting that inclusion may have a destructive effect on their ability to socialize and learn. The proposed research will explore the effects of inclusion for the child with autism and its impact on the student.

Problem Rationale and Statement

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires the Department of Education to keep statistics regarding specific childhood disabilities. The category for autism was only added in 1991. Since statistics have been kept, the number of cases of children with autism has been on the rise. However, a number of children with autism are home schooled, which has an affect on the numbers actually reported (Fighting Autism, 2004). Since 1991, the number of new cases of children diagnosed with autism has demonstrated a nearly 5,000 fold increase (Fighting Autism, 2004). Every school district in the country is likely to be touched by these statistics at one time or another.

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The rationale for this study is based on new research that indicates that inclusion may not be the best educational option for autistic children, due to the unique characteristics of their disability. Until recently, autistic children were grouped in a category with all other learning disabled children. However, new research suggests that this may not be a correct assessment of the autistic child. This research will explore the problem of whether inclusion in the regular classroom setting is the best choice for autistic students, or whether they would benefit from a different educational setting.

Literature Review

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Learning Disability Students Assignment

The idea of inclusion for children with learning disabilities is supported by vast amounts of research. This literature review will explore this research as well as new research that support the premise of the proposed study. The literature review will first examine research supports inclusion and will them address new research that indicates a changing paradigm regarding the education of autistic children.

Autistics in the Classroom

One of the key difficulties faced by teachers is how to integrate children with special needs into the standard classroom setting. However, the inclusion of children with autism baffles many seasoned veteran teachers (Kluth, 2003). The autistic child needs special support in the classroom to help them learn to cope.

Learners with autism struggle emotionally and mentally in the standards classroom. One of the key areas of concern is in the area of transitions. The autistic child can experience stress and feelings of disorientation when moving from one environment into the other (Kluth, 2003). Teachers must develop strategies to help the student make the necessary adjustments during transitions.

Children with autism often have difficulty remaining seated for a long period of time (Kluth, 2003). One approach is to allow students to move about frequently or to give them something to manipulate during lessons (Kluth, 2003). However, this can be disruptive to the rest of the class. Autistic children have trouble organizing and often need help in this area as well (Kluth, 2003).Teachers in the standard classroom must many allowances and adjustments in their classrooms to accommodate the autistic child.

In children that are higher functioning most students stay in the same placement in which they started in the first grade (White, Scahill, & Klin et al., 2007). Jordan (2008) examines the difficulties associated with all-inclusive models and strictly segregated models. She envisions a world where inclusion is achieved through treating all learners differently, rather than the same.

In a recent study in France, a link was found between the children's characteristics and the amount of time spent in the regular classroom setting (Yianni-Coudurier, Darrou, & Lenoir, 2008). The study found that their weekly hours of inclusion and time spent in a specialized setting were dependent upon the children's behavior and adaptive abilities, as well as their parent's socioprofessional category (Yianni-Coudurier, Darrou, & Lenoir, 2008). This study suggests the development of an at-risk population of students that may need special attention in order to inclusion to work. This study also highlights the importance of individual circumstance in determining the best setting for the child.

This study is supported by the results of a study that indicate attitudes of school principals regarding children with autism and their ability to be placed in the regular classroom were dependent upon demographic factors and their own personal attitudes towards autism and placement (Horrocks, White, & Roberts, 2008). Both of these studies indicate that demographic factors play a role in the placement of autistic children. The number of hours spent in the general classroom have risen from 31% in 1988-89 to 80% in 2000-01 (Dybik, 2004).

Educational Rights vs. Least Restrictive Environment

Inclusion and mainstreaming have become the key policy objective for the education of children with special needs and disabilities. However, based on child outcomes, inclusion may not produce the best outcome for the student (Lindsay, 2007). The topic of inclusion pits the issue of a student's "rights" against the effectiveness of such programs (Lindsay, 2007). Long-term studies indicate little connection between inclusion and standard measures of success for the special needs child (Lindsay, 2007).

Arguments for inclusion are based on two premises. The first is that the child has a "right" to be included in mainstream education. Is also based on the proposition that inclusion is more effective (Lindsay, 2007). However, these ideals are not supported by academic science and studies exist that suggest that inclusion is not right for all special needs children. According to Lindsay (2007), political reasons for inclusion outweigh evidence to support it.

In a study that examined the reactions of autistic children in the school system children expressed negative impressions of their differences and difficulties with peers and teachers (Humphrey & Lewis, 2008). This study used the diaries and journals of children that were high-functioning and placed in an inclusive classroom. Throughout the diaries, struggles and emotional challenges associated with trying to "fit in" were central themes in the diary entries (Humphrey & Lewis, 2008).

Another study examined the affects of children with autism on the typically developing children in the classroom. The study revealed that children in the classroom became burnout due to inclusion (Reiter & Viatani, 2007). The study also revealed that normally developing children within the classroom developed a negative attitude towards the special needs children in the classroom due to the extra attention that was required (Reiter & Viatani, 2007). The ability of children to mediate also decreased as the time of the special needs children increased in the classroom (Reiter & Viatani, 2007). This study suggests that inclusion may have a negative impact on the rest of the non-special needs population.

One of the considerations that is rarely mentioned in literature supporting inclusion is that this places the regular teacher in a position for which she was not trained (Dybvik, 2004). There is a growing body of support against inclusion for children with severe autism. This growing attitude is the result of recently discovered detrimental affects to the autistic student, the normally developing children in the classroom, and the effects on the teacher (Dybvik, 2004).

Inclusion for mild students that have minimal behavior problems is generally supported by the teaching population. However, for children that are in the severe category, teachers support the use of separate classrooms (Dybvik, 2004). Changing attitudes in teachers regarding the inclusion of severely autistic students in the general classroom has sparked a major debate and is the source of a growing schism between those who advocate based on child's rights and those who wish to take a more individual approach based on the Child's specific needs.

Conclusion

The literature review revealed that attitudes toward inclusion sprang from a political debate about educational rights and anti-discrimination attitudes. In the beginning, there appeared to be sufficient data to back up the success of inclusion for children with special needs. However, in recent years, the demographics of the special needs population has been changing. The growing number of autistic children represents a major difference in special needs population. Inclusion for that autistic population is different from inclusion for other special needs categories. Typical autistic behaviors set them apart from the remainder of the special needs population. Inclusion is a different topic than it is for the other special needs categories.

The literature reveals that for some children, particularly those with mild forms of autism, inclusion may be the most beneficial setting for the child. However, for moderate to severe children, putting them in a regular classroom may not be the best choice. Improper placement of the severely autistic child in the regular classroom places a strain on the child, it… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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