We Include’s research into inclusion in schools identified three areas as the most important topics for including students with special needs: creating inclusion in schools, understanding sensory sensitivities and ending bullying of students with disabilities. Click the icons below to learn more and to find out what you can do to be more inclusive of students with special needs.
Creating Inclusive Schools
Learning to build classrooms, schools and lesson plans that foster tolerance and acceptance is more important than ever.
Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities enrich the student body with unique perspectives and gifts. Despite hopeful strides in inclusion and accommodation in schools, students with disabilities are often segregated to a certain part of the campus with 75% of students with disabilities bullied.
1 in 20
Studies show that 5% to 16% of children exhibit symptoms of a sensory processing disorder. That means millions of students are experiencing the world in a way that could be physically painful.
In one survey, nearly all teachers reported seeing students cover their ears in the classroom. Exposure to excessive noise can impair cognitive tasks, long-term memory, attention and motivation.
Sensory-friendly classrooms across the country have seen fewer behavioral issues and higher student achievement by implementing simple design strategies to accommodate students with special needs.
Understanding Sensory Sensitivities
Even though momentum has gathered in schools to better accommodate students with sensory processing disorders (SPD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), students with special needs continue to endure situations in school that show how much misunderstanding still surrounds what it means to live with extreme reactions to light, sound frequency, texture, and smell.
The history of students with SPD and ASD in schools is full of incidents where students were misdiagnosed with behavioral issues. In reality, these young people were often acting out as a means of trying to stop the unbearable torture to their nervous systems.
By working to understand sensory sensitivities and how to handle meltdowns at school, you can help make sure every student has a chance to be successful in the classroom and beyond.
“As a mom and teacher, I know that the majority of educators are professionals and care deeply about all of the students in their care. I challenge you to think about the sensory needs of each child, especially those that suffer from sensory processing disorders. I know this is not an easy task, but we all know teaching is not always an easy profession. The return, such as a smile or hug, will be your best reward.”
– Kim Jacob, New York Public Schools teacher of 20+ years
Physical Education and Students with Disabilities
Like most kids, students with disabilities benefit from chances to move, stretch and play with friends during the school day. But, loud noises and other intense sensations like lights and crowds in a busy gym class can turn a fun opportunity into a nightmare for students with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and other disabilities.
We Include enlisted the help of fitness expert Mark Fleming, one of the first personal trainers with autism to open a private gym dedicated to people with autism, to talk about understanding SPD and the best ways to make physical education fun for students with sensory processing disorder or autism.
Ending bullying of students with disabilities
School administrators, parents and teachers can play the most important roles in stopping school bullying of students with special needs. It’s important to know that students with special needs are high-risk targets for bullies.
When bullies persecute students with disabilities, the school day can become a burden of terror-filled hours waiting to get home to a safe place. Bullies affect their ability to learn and motivation to keep going to school. One of the best ways to support students with special needs is to identify bullies, intervene and use successful strategies for including students with disabilities in the classroom.
1 in 5 neurotypical children report being bullied
3 in 4 children with disabilities report being bullied