Inclusion refers to a philosophy of education whereby students participate to the maximum extent appropriate to their needs with their age peers in the regular classroom. For students with disabilities, this means providing necessary programs and accommodations so that those students may profit from the instructional program. Traditionally, programs for students with significant disabilities consisted of separate classrooms — often in separate “special” schools. Within the last ten years, there has been an increased interest in providing for the education of students with disabilities within a regular school environment. This type of programming is often called inclusion. An inclusion program is but one type of program along a whole continuum of options of services for students. The Avoca School District generally prefers inclusive programs over more restrictive options. The decisions regarding appropriate services are made by staff members knowledgeable about the student and the parent(s).All students’ programs are determined individually; there is no one type of inclusion program. Services are more accurately described as inclusive programming rather than an inclusion program. Inclusive programming can sometimes involve many people working with a particular student. Frequently, an individual instructional assistant is required for part or all of a student’s day, depending on the student’s educational needs.
Benefits of inclusive programming extend beyond the academic interests of an individual student. Social and behavioral advantages are realized as well, since much of the student’s learning occurs from watching and interacting with other classmates. Other students in the class learn the personal challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and have an opportunity to interact with individuals with significant disabilities.