A few weeks ago, I wrote about two new students. The first student described here is doing very well. I am impressed with how quickly she has picked up the classroom routines and how accepting the other students were of her. In the short while that she has been part of our learning community, she has acquired several new words and has learned the name of a few classmates.
The second student started this week and he has completely changed the dynamic of the classroom in just a few days. He has many different needs and even more intense behaviors. The first day, he took us by storm. I went home that night exhausted and somewhat defeated. After reviewing his IEP, I created a few extra visual supports that I thought would be helpful to hm. The second day was a little better, but still incredibly challenging. Superpara, aka Ms. S, was not feeling so super. In fact she said she was really aggravated and expressed her concerns about how the dynamic changed but she didn't seem to want to talk about it at the time. Being me, I took it personally and fretted about it most of the night. His third day was just as demanding as the second.
Working in an integrated classroom, I know first hand many of the benefits of inclusion and integration of children with disabilities into regular education classrooms. I know that students with disabilities need models. I know that integrated or inclusive settings are increasingly popular in my district right now. What I also know, that the special education department and school district seem to over look is that inclusion is not for everyone. I question whether an integrated placement is in fact the best placement for this particular student. I felt like it was hard to provide the attention and support that the rest of the class needed during this past week because this student needed either me or Ms. S (and sometimes both of us) with him at all times for safety reasons. I am hopeful that things will get better as he adjusts to the classroom, but in the meantime, how is that fair to the other students? His presence is changing the classroom and I fear that his needs are greater than I can adequately meet while simultaneously providing individualized and challenging curriculum and support for the other twelve students in my classroom.