Video: Severe and Complex Needs in the Mainstream School (EDCHAT®)
EDCHAT® shows here some ways, how people with intellectual and multiple disabilities can be included in a mainstream school. But do they have "severe and complex needs"?
The video shows the inclusion of pupils with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities in a mainstream secondary school. It demonstrates how the pupils with disabilities, other pupils and the teaching staff are benefiting from the inclusive approach of this school. Sign language, theatre, story telling etc. are new features that are also enjoyed by the non-disabled people at school. Enthusiastic teaching staff is fully supportive of the inlcusion of these children in their school environment.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the teaching and curriculum at this school is focusing on language, reading, writing and social skills. The objective is to support language acquisition in a functional way. As one teacher puts it:
"Without language you cannot communicate. When you can't communicate you can't say what your needs are. When you can't say what your needs are you are going to be extremely unhappy and frustrated."
This statement points to the fundamental issue of this video and that is the understanding of "severe and complex needs". All pupils shown are clearly able to communicate, not only verbally, but also nonverbally. For them, it is of course beneficial to focus on language acquisition in a more traditional context.
However, where does this leave people whose disabilities and needs are even more severe and complex? Children who indeed are not able to talk or sign, but who are able to communicate in a very individualised mode? Where not the children would need to learn to communicate, but where teachers and others would have to learn to listen to very different modes of communication? They are not mentioned in the video and it can be assumed that those pupils would not have access to this school.
Thus, the video is indeed very positive for promoting inclusion in a secondary school, but at the same time diverts attention from the right of all children, including those with really severe disabilities and complex needs, to benefit from inclusive education.