The purpose of this collection of articles and ideas on integration is to add to the material about integration currently being published. I receive requests daily for documentation, thoughts and feelings on this timely topic. Parents of children with handicaps are particularly interested in material that describes programs that work. They want articles that provide a vision of the future which includes their children. They want descriptions of children living in the real world and not in the protected and isolated world of “special education or, even worse, in institutions. If indeed the focus for the ’80s is on conmunity living, we had better start including children early into the community. It does not make sense to educate a child in a segregated setting with other children who look, act and behave in a non-typical fashion and then to expect that child to function in a real job and live in a real home. If we want children with handicaps to grow up to live and work in the community, then they must go to school alongside their typical peers from the beginning. We know that this is possible with supports to meet individual needs. Despite the.great strides made by good inteqrated programs, there are many parents and professions who still think in terms of special schools. Here is a typical example. Thomas is blind and has severe emotional and learning problems. He is currently in a good integrated conmunity-based setting. Yet, a group of wellmeaning people are seriously considering sending Thomas to a school for blind students several hours away from his community in an isolated setting. Why would such a possibility even be considered? Because of the “mystique” of the special school. They think that he will get a better program and “therapy”. What they don’t consider is that Thomas will no longer be in the company of typical, noisy, pushy, vocal, active children. In his current placement he is learning to help organize the audiovisual equipment in the school library. His reward? Listening to music through the headphones (which he loves). Does he like his job? You bet. Is there a future in it? Surely. He may be able to work in a library in the community. Therapy? No. Job training for independent living? Yes. The articles in the collection are only a beginning. They are not a destination but a journey. They do not provide the dnswer, but simply some examples of programs where children are learning together.
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