Every day many boys and girls with some kind of disability go to class in ordinary schools to receive an education. In these centers they share a desk with colleagues without disabilities. The paths of all of them, in theory, should be even, on the other hand, they are complicated for the former, who in addition to circumventing numerous physical barriers must circumvent the obstacles that are not seen, that is, the human prejudices that slow down their passage, they slow down their wheelchairs and hinder their progress. It is inevitable that the doubt then looms in the environment: Is it good to include students with and without disabilities in the same classroom?
Before reaching any kind of conclusion, it is important to bear in mind that I consider the work done in special education centers to be essential. These are necessary for many students when the case in question requires it and the professionals and the family consider it so.
But, when in doubt as to whether or not a child with a disability can attend an ordinary center, it is convenient to remember that education and access to goods and services are a right - and not a privilege- for everyone, also for children with disabilities.
The educational system must take into account and attend to the different types of people, the different learning rates, capacities, interests, social and / or personal situations, and it must respond to all of them; precisely because we do not all have to be the same, neither do children with disabilities, since each person is unique.
What the educational system must guarantee is the possibility that each individual reaches their maximum potential in all the dimensions that comprise it, based on their unique abilities, as each person is unique, since we are not only the result of an intellectual quotient . Each one as far as possible. We must stop to think that being different is not equivalent to being inferior.
In this sense, I see inclusion as a two-way street. I explain. It has been proven that when a child with some type of disability goes to an ordinary center and comes into contact with boys and girls of his age, in a normalized environment and context, the benefits are tremendous.
Progress is evident in different fields: expressive and comprehensive language stimulation, motor stimulation, intellectual development, behavioral control (learning by imitation). Contact with their peers enables these advances, they make them progress, motivate them, stimulate them and with all this they grow.
Now, the way out is done, it remains to do the way back. Children who do not have disabilities observe, through daily contact in class with their other classmates, that they have to make more effort than they do to reach similar or even lower goals. Despite this, they do not get frustrated or give up easily, but they try to improve themselves, if possible without losing their smile; they do not give up, they fight, they do not conform and to the extent of their possibilities they progress, in some cases living with the pain.
In these classes there are spontaneous situations that arise between them naturally: They help each other, sympathize, put themselves in the place of the other and also come to the conclusion that, even though there are things that their colleagues with disabilities cannot and cannot do, there are many others that do, if not the same as them, so different. But are we all good at doing everything? The result is that making contact with these colleagues (with disabilities) brings them a series of learning and values that are usually a privilege and, why not, also a right.
I can assure you that, in general, the classes in which there is a child with a disability tend to be more united classes, with a special atmosphere, surely more mature and notably more supportive, more generous and above all more humane.
That is why I am certain that inclusion should be a round trip, where the end result is mutual benefit and that, if any question arises, one might ask: Who benefits the most in this process?
Author: Miguel Domínguez Palomares, early childhood educator
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