By Denise Morganthall
The majority of children with mental health issues have a learning disability that requires special education and/or special instruction in a classroom setting.
Special education allows schools to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities through specially designed individual or group instruction. Many special education settings are segregated from mainstream students.
Many parents struggle with their children being labeled under special education. For this reason, many parents refuse to accept the fact that their child has a learning disability and in turn refuse to put their child in special education courses, even though they know their child would benefit from it. It is sad to think we still struggle with this stigma in 2013. The first step is for school systems to have a zero tolerance policy for children who make fun of and/or disrespect their classmates who are “different.”
Some of the children who have learning disabilities are fortunate in that they are able to remain in the general classroom setting with the assistance of a teacher’s aide. This concept is known as “inclusion.” These children have the opportunity to learn alongside children of both average and exceptional abilities; however, there is controversy over that as well. There does appear to be less “labeling” under this umbrella of teaching. However, this does not always meet the needs of the children.
Many children who receive special education support in their early years eventually mainstream in their middle and high school years. Mainstreaming attempts to move students from special education classrooms to regular classrooms only in situations where they are able to keep up with their other classmates without specially designed instruction.
We need the help and support of the parents, teachers, administrators and students to end the stigma. We need to expose special education children to the other students so they can see they really aren’t that much different, except that they learn at a slower rate. And even if they are different that’s OK too. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.