In Australia this past week there has been much discussion about whether autistic children should be allowed to attend school with their peers, or whether they should be removed from mainstream classes and educated in “special schools”.
This conversation is not new, but this round of it was started by Senator Pauline Hanson making some ill informed, discriminatory comments in a speech in which she claimed that the presence of autistic students disadvantages other non disabled students.
To be clear- I disagree entirely with the idea that segregated learning environments benefit anybody. In fact, there is much evidence to say that segregated learning environments are harmful and that all students benefit form the inclusion of ALL students together in mainstream learning settings.Inclusion in education is a human right, as recognised by Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and further explained by General Comment No. 4. So, today, I’d like to share some resources with you. (I’d love it if people would share this post so that it reaches far and wide because it is so incredibly important that people realise the fallacies in the arguments for segregated education)
1. School Inclusion Parent Network and All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education have excellent resources about inclusion in eduction. Please have a look at this guide: https://sipnweb.com/edinclusion-guide/
2. “My needs are not special” is an article I wrote that discusses the problem with the use of the word “special” when referring to disabled peoples needs. It is important to address this within the context of this discussion because it helps us realise that this is an issue of rights and equality. https://michellesuttonwrites.com/2016/05/26/my-needs-are-not-special/
3. It is not true that disabled students disadvantage non disabled students by being present in the classroom. But they do have specific needs that teachers should be aware of. “Tips for teachers supporting neurodivergent students in the classroom” is a resource from my website resources section: https://michellesuttonwrites.com/infographics/tips-for-teachers-supporting-neurodivergent-students/
4. Likewise there are specific needs autistic children have in learning settings. Here are the links to two infographics with information specifically about supporting autistic students in the classroom from my website:
You can read more of my articles about inclusion in the classroom by clicking here