Outline the positive and negative aspects of incorporating mentally retarded individuals in society.
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I feel that society is obligated to reasonably accommodate the developmentally disabled.
I also feel that the nature of the accommodation depends on the severity of the disability. For example, those with disruptive behavioral issues, or patients with severe retardation or mental issues, should not be placed in standard classrooms. There is always a need for special institutions for those with severe disabilities.
It is important that society recognize the individual’s right to a pursuit of a life of inclusion, productivity and happiness, despite any handicap that she may suffer. Those who witness disabled members participating in daily activities, and those who help them do so are learning tolerance.
Societies that are intolerant, and shun and isolate “defective” persons are ignorant of basic human rights, and doomed to failure.
We need to consider as a society that all people are entitled to an equality of opportunity. This does not mean unrealistic goals, or cost-cutting gestures disguised as mainstreaming. All of us are entitled to fair treatment, an education and a future. In my experience as a teacher of students who experience learning challenges, it is best to treat people as individuals, review the provision on offer and its effects on all concerned. Society itself is a balancing act. I have a belief in the validity of society being made of all of us, but also that perticularly in an educational setting, adaptations, resources and techniques need to be as refined as possible to meet everyone's needs. I am as strong an advocate for extension programmes for my gifted students as I am for individualised programmes for my challenged students. In some cases, they can even be the same person.
Of course perfect provision is an ideal, but that doesn't stop us educators striving for the best we can provide so students can attain ther potential.
If mentally handicapped people aren't integrated into society, what would be the alternative? Asylums? Group homes with little to no contact with the "outside world?" How does that make any sense? While there are certainly social, medical and physical circumstances that require handicapped people to live away from their immediate families, they can still have function within the society has a whole. Many people with Down's Syndrome and other developmental delays, for example, work as baggers at our local grocery store. They would not likely ever run the register, but they can be a part of something useful and worthwhile. A large organization near my home provides housing and purpose for many different kinds of handicapped people. They run a farm and sell farm-fresh produce. They run a petting zoo. They run a small pet store. It is an amazing organization that makes the most of these people capabilities.
For the most part, special needs individuals should be included in society because, like it or not, they are a part of society. Many individuals with retardation are productive citizens and contribute to society just like their non-handicapped peers. In a school setting, inclusion can be a difficult thing. It is often hard to give each special needs student the extra attention they require in an inclusion setting. However, inclusion helps to teach other students about tolerance and acceptance. It also helps to prepare handicapped and differently abled students for life outside of the classroom. I do not think those with retardation or other special needs should be separated from society as they once were.
There are a number of issues to be considered here. I think the choice to seclude individuals with mental difficulties from society explicitly conveys a serious message about the way that such individuals are not valued by society and considered worthless, only worthy of being locked away and removed from "normal" people. However, as posts above indicate, mainstreaming is a very difficult thing to achieve and unless careful work and sensitivity is used, it can go disastrously wrong.
I agree with the excellent points that previous posts have made about the difficulties and inequities that can be created when wholesale mainstreaming of individuals with special needs is undertaken. However, I also think that it's important for students to be sensitive to the needs of others and that all persons, regardless of age or ability, need to have the experience of learning to be a compassionate individual when dealing with those who have special needs. I have been fortunate to watch a group of "normal to gifted" kids I had in class and in my church grow up over the years being incredibly supportive to a significantly autistic child. They were protective when the situation demanded it and ready to have a good time on her level when that was appropriate - and they are all going to be great assets to society as adults because of the feel for others they have learned as a result.
Having experienced the before and afters of mainstreaming, educators must be able to perceive that there are few, if any, benefits for the present concept of including everyone in everything. With individualized, private attention special students fared better, and they were not resented as some are now by the brighter students who are bored, bored, bored as they must wait on others. It is a simple fact that one cannot strengthen the weak without weakening the strong. Post #4 explains very well this impossibility.
I have to agree with pohnpei. Mainstreaming SOME special needs students into the general education classroom would be more detrimental to both general education students and those with special needs. While some special needs students can function at the level needed in the general education classroom, others simply cannot.
There are very severe cases where educators and parents alike know that the student in question will need care for the rest of their lives--there is simply no hope for the student living and functioning normally. As unfortunate as this is, it is simply a fact.
I would very much disagree with the first post, at least in terms of mainstreaming in schools. There are clear disadvantages to mainstreaming, particularly when it is done wrong.
It can hurt the "regular" kids in the class. When I have to spend time trying to make sure that a special needs kid is being able to feel included in the class, it takes away from my ability to teach the other kids. It slows them down. I hear some districts have aides to go around with the special needs kids. Maybe in those cases it's great, but not in my case.
I also think it does the special needs kids themselves a disservice. I have seen many kids who have had it emphasized to them that they can be just like everyone else when they really can't. I've had kids who were 17 years old, with a first grade reading level, and who were sure they were going to go to college. Is that really helping the special needs kid? Maybe, but I'm not convinced that that kind of sugarcoating of reality is useful.
I don't mean to say that I am against mainstreaming special needs kids in all or even most circumstances. I am just saying that it needs to be done right and that we can't be blind to the fact that it comes at a cost.
There will always be a small percentage of students with such serious challenges that they require more specialized care and instruction than a standard school can give, but there really aren't many other drawbacks to mainstreaming.
Unfortunately, many schools are giving less thought to what the best placement and support for a student would be, and are often mainstreaming for simple financial reasons. So mainstreaming for the sake of mainstreaming is a common mistake districts make, and it means these students are less successful overall.
This is a very sensitive topic. Many people do not even like the appellation of "mentally retarded." They prefer to say, "mentally challenged" or "intellectually challenged."
With that said, there are very few negative aspects, if any at all, of incorporating mentally challenged people into society. Some may argue that the the mentally challenged will not be competent enough to labor. This might be true on some levels. However, if you think about this, this would apply to all people. We are all incompetent in certain things. More importantly, there will be many things that the mentally challenged can do well.
In terms of positive points, there are too many to name. So, I will only mention three of them. First, to integrate the mentally challenged in society would be a great benefit, because all people are different and what makes society vibrant is diversity. There is much that we can learn from all. Second, the mentally disabled will be able to provide many valuable services in the work place for society. For this reason, society will benefit.
Finally, society becomes a better place when all of humanity is embraced. We become more human when we do this. Talk to any parent with mentally challenged children. A society that can only embrace certain types of people is one that is on a path toward blindness.
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