Learning: Disabled

Hazel McCallion Senior Public School
Mississauga, Ontario

By Lara P. (Grade 8)

A family's fight to have their disabled daughter, Emily E., go to a regular school has brought the controversial issue of integration to the surface.

Emily's father stated, "It's an important decision not just for her but for all the children with disabilities. "Now, teachers, parents and students should be asking themselves, "Should we allow these students with disabilities into the regular classroom, or is it better that we segregate them from the rest of the school?" I am personally unsure of where I stand on this issue, but I believe that it all comes down to the personality and the ability of the student.

Most students, once integrated into a regular classroom, thrive both socially and academically. They get along well with the other students, which eliminates the feeling of being isolated from the "normal" part of the school. When students are integrated, not only do they benefit, but the class does also by letting the other students experience working in a completely different environment. Unfortunately, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Some students, once integrated, reduce the positive learning environment because they are in desperate need to be the centre of attention all the time. For example, Jason is one of these students. Jason is autistic. He would incessantly disrupt the class with his attempts to distract the other students from their work. He would often do things that were socially unacceptable, not always realizing that they were wrong. All these things would create an environment that was not conducive to learning, where no one was benefitting, not even Jason, because he was too busy trying to impress the other students.

The sad thing is, although there are some students who would do well to be integrated into the regular classroom, there are always the ones who would not benefit. If the situation is unclear as to the benefits to everyone, then who is the one who decides? If the situation risks creating an unproductive learning environment where no one is benefitting, then are we not better off saying "no" to everyone?

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