This paper, written by Hsin-Hui Huang and Karen E. Diamond, investigates the effect of information about a child’s disability on preschool teachers’ actions in integrating children with disabilities in their classroom.
Of special interest was whether the gravity of a child’s educational requirements and the teacher’s knowledge about the disability condition were linked to teacher’s responses towards incorporating such children in their classrooms.
To determine whether there was a link, Huang and Diamond collected information from 155 preschool teachers in two US states to asses how they responded in terms of degree of comfort, classroom adaptation, and need for assistance. The researchers’ findings showed that pre-school teachers’ responses to their pupils’ disability were dissimilar irrespective of the diagnostic labels.
The teachers treated children with mild disabilities with more care than those who were physically disabled. Besides, contrasted with children with diagnostic labels, the teachers treated children without any diagnostic labels with more care.
Teachers’ training and practice in handling disabled children were linked to their degrees of comfort. The results corroborated earlier studies that had showed that teachers, from preschool through secondary school, are liable to include a child with minor disability in their classroom than those with severe conditions (Huang and Diamond, 2011).
For along time, children with disabilities, both major and minor, have been discriminated against in educational institutions, the trend has continued despite the fact that some children have previously excelled and even outshone their counterparts who are deemed as ‘normal’.
Besides, children with disabilities have exceptional abilities that can be nurtured and bred so that the children can achieve their full potential. The study is important towards understanding teacher’s responses towards accepting disabled children in their classes, and their differing responses based on disability labels.
Findings from the study can be used by stakeholders in the academic sector to promote the intake of disabled children in mainstream classrooms. The findings can also assist in the development of a curriculum for training teachers that gives them an understanding of various disability conditions and how to treat children with such conditions.
The training curriculum can also quell any misconceptions based on the teachers’ incorrect knowledge towards integrating children with disabilities. The training can be extended to primary and high school teachers.
Finally, the findings from the study can be useful in addressing teachers’ stereotypes regarding children’s disability conditions by focusing on the children’s individual abilities, skills and education needs rather than branding them on their disability.
The findings from this study are vital towards my future career as a preschool teacher. First, it lays bare the fact that ‘disability is not inability’. Every child should be judged based on his/her skills and abilities rather than on the disability. Having learnt this, I intend to incorporate all children in my future classroom and determine each child’s aptitude.
To accomplish this, I will strive to understand each child’s disability condition in depth and how the child can be assisted to realize his/her full potential. The author’s conclusion that teachers should focus on individual children’s aptitudes and learning needs rather than the label attached to their disability’ (Huang and Diamond, 2011) is the highlight of the article.
In my future career, I will treat each child equally, rather than on their disability labels or learning needs. An understanding of each child’s disability will be essential in achieving this mission.
Huang, H., and Diamond, K. E. (2011). Early Childhood Teachers’ Ideas about Including
Children with Disabilities in Programmes Designed for Typically Developing Children. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, Vol. 56, No. 2, June 2009, 169–182.