Research suggests that the integration and inclusion of students with special educational needs can be beneficial to not only the student, but also to the parents, teachers and peers of the student (Stainback, Stainback & Jackson, 1992). It is also suggested that integration and inclusion is also beneficial to students in areas of learning other than academic, including that of emotional and social development.
Wagner is in support of inclusive education, but believes that “Placement in regular education alone does not ensure success.” (Wagner, 1996). It is important to understand the individual needs of children included in mainstream education, as well as their strengths and weaknesses (Harrison, 1998). Wagner also advises the use of teacher aids, saying that “At least partial support of an aide or teacher is usually necessary for optimal academic and social progress.” (Wagner, 1999). Wagner designed an ‘Inclusion Model’, as seen in the following diagram:
Powell says that it is important to understand how children with ASD learn, before their inclusion into the mainstream. He states,
“Autistic learning is of a disconnected kind and therefore pupils with autism need to be shown what connections are as well as what the specific connections are within the particular learning experience with which they are engaged.” (Powell, 2000)
He explains that using visual cues will help students with autism make these specific connections. Clearly, in order to put Powell’s suggestions in use in a mainstream school, the provision of resources and sufficient training would be necessary. Powell also states that
“There is a need to address the fundamental issue of how the thinking of these children can be made more effective, also accepting that teachers need to address this issue at the level at which children are able to operate.” (Powell, 2000)
Powell, therefore, believes in using differentiated instruction and assessment, and various teaching methods tailored to the needs of individual students.
Special Education in Singapore
Currently, Singapore does not have government legislation on special education needs, nor an “equivalent legislation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the U.K.’s Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).” (Parker, 2001). The closest legislation in Singapore is Chapter 177A of the statutes of Singapore, the Mental Capacity Act, which was last revised in March 2010.
Education in Singapore is separated into two broad categories – mainstream education and Special Education (SPED) schools. Since the 1990s, providing for students with SEN has increased in importance within the Ministry of Education. Quah (cited in Lim, 2000) mentioned that there were eleven special schools. This number had increased to sixteen by the year 2000, as described by Levan Lim. (Lim, 2000). Currently, there are twenty SPED schools in Singapore that focus on the needs of students with various types of impairments, or different...