Autism has been quoted as one of the rapidly growing aspects of special education. That was after being incorporated into the education system by the Individuals with Education Act (IDEA) in the year 1990. In fact, the decade when the disorder was added to IDEA was marked by a huge number of children suffering from the disease, which rose from 5,000 to 118,000 children (Hanson & Lynch, 2004). Autism continues to be a critical problem in schooling institutions due to several factors. Autism spectrum disorder is usually defined under three occurrences of the victim, which include retarded social interactions, communication as well as constricted repertoire of both behaviors along with interests. It was then that the celebrated Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism working together with the National Research Council advised that all students suffering from the disorder should be offered special education regardless of the degree of impairment. Inclusive education has become a part of today’s society despite the fact that it existed as an approach that was thought to be helpful to students with special needs only. However, the situation has changed and children with autism are being handled and taught together with normal students. In fact, it has reached a point that teachers are required to enhance inclusive activities for all students regardless of their abilities. This paper seeks to define inclusive education, explain the public education approach under the context of autism and IDEA, and give its purpose along with the laws and resources that are associated with it, including its merits and challenges in order to show how prominent the concept has become.
Definition of Inclusive Education
Inclusive education takes place when students with and those without disabilities take part and learn together. Therefore, children with autism can now engage in all aspects of learning activities together with normal ones. It has been proven that when children with autism are integrated with normal ones, the resultant benefits yield (Odom, Horner & Snell, 2009). Most importantly, inclusive education is all about the manner in which people develop and design schools, classrooms as well as programs in order to ensure that all students are able to learn and participate together regardless of their abilities (Corkum et al., 2014). Inclusive education has been regarded as helpful due to various assumptions held for children in their early ages. It has been inferred that they benefit from incorporated early programs and acquire advantages from developmentally effective curricula (Odom, Horner & Snell, 2009). Moreover, parents and professionals who combine efforts make it successful for such students to produce positive results.
Public Education System in Context of Disabilities and IDEA
The public education system has also been influenced by incorporating students suffering from autism. The rising number of students with the disorder has brought several questions as well as concerns on the way to offer free and effective public education. That is in the least constructed environment to such children (Camargo et al., 2014). For many years, several teaching techniques have been advised, such as increased interventions that are focused on certain areas including relationship development, personal skills development, cognitive improvement and physiological procedures. Such approaches have been incorporated into the context of public school systems, and most of them have been quoted as therapeutic in nature and objective. Most importantly, the educational system enhances the acquisition of core social, academic and communication skills (Elsabbagh et al., 2012). This explains the reason why children suffering from autism have truly benefited from inclusive education and that that takes place in segregated education. In fact, with the integration of the popular No Child Left Behind Act along with the reestablishment IDEA in the year 2004, stress has been put on improved public school education to incorporate students with autism (Camargo et al., 2014). It is also vital to note that since the enactment of the initial law in the year 1975, both children and youth, who are aged between three and twenty two, acquire special education along with other services. These services are based on Part B of IDEA. Part B covers education for all children who suffer from various disabilities including autism (Corkum et al., 2014).
Purpose of Inclusive Education
Inclusion offers children with the vital services, and supports within a general classroom or education system. Moreover, completely inclusive classrooms tend to be the most ideal locations for social interactions and interventions due to the existence of peers who associate with those with autism (Elsabbagh et al., 2012). Inclusive education also enhances authenticity of children with autism, and that plays a huge role in deducing the overall success of intervention. In the most cases, inclusive classrooms give a chance for generalization in authentic conditions. In addition, it is the belief of the National Autistic Society that inclusion of children with autism is a crucial way of instilling skills and expertise in them. Schools with the system of inclusion are often advised to work with mainstream ones in order to enhance increased inclusion (Elsabbagh et al., 2012). Children are said to benefit from social justice, safe environments of learning, literacy, technology and collaboration. Moreover, inclusive classes provide children with the frequent chance to practice as well as discuss their ideas. It is advisable for inclusive schools to ensure that such children are provided with the roles of leaders and supporters and that will foster their awareness of diversity in such classrooms (Odom, Horner & Snell, 2009).
Laws Associated with Inclusive Education
The laws linked with inclusive education tend to offer guidelines towards well-resourced funding, adequate support and working partnerships among other provisions. In the United States, several laws are associated with disabilities including Section 5045 of the Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and The Education of All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) (Camargo et al., 2014). Therefore, parents have often used such litigations in order to challenge as well as appeal claims that are made concerning provisions of providing educational services to disabled children. These laws have highlighted principles that insist on free along with appropriate education to all children with disabilities (Koegel, Matos-Freden, Lang & Koegel, 2012). These are the same guidelines that assist students with autism to be included in learning. These laws are aimed at strengthening parental collaboration across the educational system, which is achieved by protecting their freedoms by implementing procedural processes. They are also meant to increase the degree of accountability for all children taking part in general education. That is enhanced by mastering the individualized education plan (IEP) (Corkum et al., 2014). The regulations help in implementation of remediation and other procedures that take care of freedoms of those with disabilities such as autism.
Individual Education Plan (IEP)
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) refers to a readable document, which highlights a child’s educational aspects. That way, the educational program is highly developed towards a student in order to offer maximized advantages. In the most cases, the key word given for autistic children is Individual A. The IEP has been regarded as the cornerstone for learning of children with disabilities. In order to acquire an IEP, a local learning agency committee is engaged in the program. That way, certain people should be present including one or both parents of the child with autism, child’s trainer, child with disability where necessary, a representative in a public agency among other people who are at the discretion of the parents or the specific agency. In the most cases, schools should provide notifications to parents in order to provide them chances to attend (Odom, Horner & Snell, 2009).
Merits of Inclusive Education
Upon acquiring an IEP, the student with autism is entitled to receive education in an inclusive system. That way, complete inclusion will enable the child to enjoy all services including mainstream lessons or general education programs. One of the major merits of inclusive education for children with autism is that they are involved in observational learning. They can imitate the skills from their peers (Camargo et al., 2014). Moreover, neuro typically-developing children are able to be accommodating of the ones with autism.
Challenges Associated with Inclusive Education
Inclusive education for children with autism poses them to the risk of rejection from their normal peers. The part of reasoning for autistic students being unable to interact with normal children can be caused by overstimulation. Another challenge emerges due to cognitive disparity among students with autism and their normal peers (Elsabbagh et al., 2012). That calls for individualized instructions for the autistic students.
Resources for Parents and Families
Several resources have been available to parents and families of autistic parents. One of these resources is the Autism parent Resource Kit that is an online platform to assist parents, caretakers and families of autistic children to effectively comprehend services that are available in the United States (Humphrey & Symes, 2013). This platform enables creating awareness of those associated with autistic children. Moreover, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services offer finances that enable Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and help. There is also the Autism Intervention Program (AIP) and other school programs that provide funds and support to the parents and families (Dolev, Oppenheim, Koren-Karie & Yirmiya, 2014).
I have acquired great knowledge from this literature review research that will be of much help in my future practices. A lot of times I have paid attention to special schools that exhaustively deal with children with autism. However, I have not been keen on what really goes on inside. It is surprising to note that inclusive education is quite effective and has been used for a long time. In fact, the law has recognized the need to incorporate children with autism in the general public school systems. Moreover, I have learned that resources are easily accessible by parents and families with autistic children. Many benefits accrue from inclusion of such children into mainstream classrooms. They are able to interact with normal children and learn certain skills through imitation. However, I have realized that there are various challenges that surround inclusive education meaning that as much as there are benefits in such systems, much attention is required.
I believe that this information will be quite useful, as I prepare to engage in major activities in my future efforts especially in my career. A good example where inclusive education for children with autism can be applied is in Ontario where the Ministry of Education has conclusively recommended the practice. The inclusiveness is targeted at enhancing safe as well as healthy relationships. The three main documents providing the tools and direction for such programs include the strategy documents, policy memorandum along with guidelines for boards. Therefore, in case I am provided a chance to work in Ontario, I will be at a position to effectively provide the best services. The state has well-developed laws and policies that guide provision of education to autistic students, which should be in general classes together with the normal ones. The knowledge about laws, merits, purposes, resources and challenges of inclusive education will be vital in handling cases of parents, families and autistic children.
The paper has exhaustively covered the inclusive education for children with autism. It has become clear that most people have paid attention to inclusive education due to the benefits that accrue to disabled children. For this research, the disability referred is autism that has majorly affected children across the world. It is the inability to communicate and interact with other children and people. Most schools have found the need to offer inclusive education to such children stating that the practice enhances easy imitation and interaction. There are also laws and resources provided in order to guide and support parents and families with autistic children. However, there are various challenges including discrimination and inability of autistic children to take part in the practice. This knowledge will be helpful as I prepare to take part in service across the world.