I came across this article, and realized that it opens up a question that has always been simmering in the American psyche as well. I’ve seen it manifest in parents asking other parents to move their autistic kids to another pool, or another part of the playground, because they are being “distracting” or “bothersome.” I’ve seen it manifest in school systems who repeatedly try to shoehorn all special needs kids and teens into a few special education classrooms with no regard to their developmental levels, with over-extended and underpaid teachers (I mean, I feel all teachers here are underpaid, but you get the idea).
I definitely fall on the side of allowing mainstreaming if the child/teen is ready for it, because everyone involved grows from it. The other students learn acceptance (and may get some academic help from their new peers), and the teachers start learning to interact with a group of students that some of them seem to…I guess fear would be the closest word. Some teachers seem genuinely fearful of having to interact with special needs students; I think it may be because they aren’t really taught or trained on how to interact and teach them unless they take specific classes for it. They’re afraid of doing something wrong.
In any case, this article covers the debate in Australia fairly well. It recently came to the forefront with one senator suggesting that special needs students should not be mainstreamed at all because the other students are “held back” by the amount of time the teachers spend on the special needs student(s). Naturally, that angered a LOT of people.
What do you all think about the mainstreaming question? Yay, nay, or it depends?