Integration is the ultimate goal in Special Education. While staying in specialized classes that cater to the needs of disabled children sounds like a good idea (in theory, at least), we must also prepare them in integrating into regular classes with regular students, as they would also have to do in real life.
Successful integration could be beneficial not only to the SPED students, but also to their classmates from regular classes, and their teachers.
For the SPED students, the greatest thing that they could get out of it inclusion – making them feel like they’re not that different from everyone else and that they belong in the community. Integration would them the opportunity to broaden their horizons and prospects, and, of course, would allow them access to the same kind of education as their peers.
For their classmates, successfully integrated SPED classmates would allow them to experience a more diverse environment, and help them develop empathy, sensitivity and respect towards their classmates with disabilities. It would also give them the opportunity to develop leadership skills, as there would be a lot of times where teachers would have to rely on them to help their SPED classmates along.
For the teachers, the integration process could help them improve their teaching skills creatively, as they would have to try different approaches to convey information to a more diverse class. Like their regular students, it could also help them be more empathic and sensitive towards people in conditions different than theirs.
While this sounds simple enough, us educators should make sure that we provide our SPED students as much guidance as possible and that we make the entire process go as easily as we can for them. We must make preparations in advance, get to know our students, talk to their previous teachers about their learning habits, etc. We should also take time to check up on them from time to time to make sure that they’re not having any problems integrating into the class and that adjusting to the regular curriculum is not too hard on them. We shouldn’t forget to check up on our regular students too, to make sure that they’re getting along well with their new classmates, and that everyone feels included.
There’s not really a specific timetable for integration, as different children ways and time when it comes to adapting and adjusting. The important thing is that we as educators do our part in fostering a healthy learning environment so our students can all progress together.