Communal outlooks, laws and court cases dictate for the most part how people function within a society. These social constructions order individuals to do or not do things in an effort to create an organized and functional society. In a Democratic Society like that of the United States of America it is the will of the people to dictate what is best for society as a whole while trying to find a balance that includes, but does not discriminate against any minority in the process. The American ideals of freedom and equality are ever prevalent that were prevalent in the Civil Rights Movement have been mirrored in the concepts that have led to the manner, rules and lawsuits that direct special education today.
Social implications of attitude on the lives of students with disabilities
Philosophies about how students with disabilities are considered contained in the past negative positions that led to the keeping out of students with disabilities from many opportunities to live and study with others but have been transformed into current progression towards the positive in which dissimilarity is acceptable, celebrated and represents what makes people unique.
In the past, unconstructive feelings towards others were present as indifference or survival of the fittest where non-typically developing individuals were abandoned or failed to survive because they could not meet the harsh demands of their natural environment. These unhelpful thoughts supported the separation and segregation of persons who were considered to be a detriment to society and were isolated and shunned, and left out of the everyday interactions of society. During the societal shift of equality and justice during the Civil Rights Movement the mind-set began to slowly vary to one of tolerance, and acceptance.
The contemporary way of thinking is that children with disabilities should have “Independenceand social interactions… [has] increased dramatically” (Heward, 2009, p. vi). Present optimistic standpoints have led to the social understanding that “Peers are often the most effective and efficient teachers of social skills…” so is has become socially acceptable for exceptional children to “. …learn important social skills” in traditional learning environments (Heward, 2009, p vi ).
The terminology used to refer to disabled children has shifted to the more politically correct label of exceptional children and been redirected from the past negative labels disabled, retarded or idiot, which focused on what children were unable to do. The present focus is to determine what they can do and celebrate those abilities. A mother recently described her daughter to me as “learning able.”
There are also existing pessimistic opinions that do not want exceptional children taking time and resources away from other children in schools. Another downbeat point of view comes from parents who are still facing adversarial relations with schools as they try to get needed services for their children.
Hopefully in the future the “interdisciplinary team that includes our colleagues in psychology, medical and health services, counseling, social services, and vocational rehabilitation.” The child and the parents will be able to find common ground around the idea that the child’s interest is everyone’s concern and they will work together to constructively support the exceptional child in what ever way is necessary to promote learning and development.
In times gone by, the 1800s, before regulations persons with disabilities were considered to be abnormalities or just weird and the disable were institutionalized. There were some people who believed that these persons deserved compassion, deference and suitable treatment.
Heward, W. (2009). Exceptional children: an introduction to special education. (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.