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An Inclusive Approach to Early Education

are concerned that children will not receive specialized support services, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. The opposite is also of concern: If a program is meeting the special needs of children with dis- abilities, then what about the typically developing children? Are they going to be shortchanged?

These concerns have been addressed in a number of research studies. By and large, the data indicate that parents believe their children (with and without disabilities) benet from integrated programs. These ndings are based on well- structured programs with knowledgeable teachers. Little parental satisfaction is found with poor-quality programs, integrated or otherwise. In a review of a number of research studies, Lamorey and Bricker (1993) state that in general, the needs of the children were met in inclusive programming. Some parents were concerned about the quality of training received by teachers in inclusive programs. This indicates that there is a need for different types of training in early childhood education. Professionals need to work on adapting preservice training for teachers in early childhood, early childhood special education, and related therapy elds. Training should prepare professionals to work together to deliver quality services to children with special needs in inclusive programs (Odom & McEvoy, 1990; Washington, Schwartz, & Swinth, 1994).

Many researchers have documented that parents of typically developing children report that their children are learning important social and academic lessons from their experiences in inclusive classrooms (McGregor & Vogelsberg, 1998). A similar reaction is found among parents of children with disabilities. Guralnick (1994) reported the following:

Particular benets to children with special needs were noted in relation to promoting the acceptance of children with disabilities in the communit ,

p r e p a r i n g t h e c h i l d f o r t h e r e a l w o r l d , e n c o u r a g i n g c h i l d r e n w i t h s p e c i a l

needs to learn more, and providing opportunities to participate in a wider variety of interesting and creative activities. (p. 180)

It is important to note, however, that these same parents voiced concerns about inclusion. These concerns included the quality of specialized services available in an inclusive setting and the possible rejection of the children with disabilities by their peers. Palmer, Borthwick-Duffy, Widaman, and Best (1998) and Palmer et al. (2001) found that parents whose children display the most signicant disabilities are less likely to favor inclusion. These parents who opposed inclusion wrote statements indicating that the severity of their child’s disability precluded the child from beneting from inclusion or that the general education program would not be accommodating or welcoming.

Researchers have demonstrated and assert that there does not appear to be any basis for the fear of children being slighted, as an examination of suc- cessful programs at the preschool level demonstrates (Rafferty, Piscitelli, & Boettcher, 2003; Thurman & Widerstrom, 1990). Thurman and Widerstrom (1990) also refer to their personal experiences: “Individualized programming for the children with disabilities often spilled over into better practices with the


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