Inclusion: Friend or Foe? Her experience as a teacher influenced a new SLP’s approach to classroom inclusion. From My Perspective
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From My Perspective  |   April 01, 2016
Inclusion: Friend or Foe?
Author Notes
  • Kristin Immicke, MS, CF-SLP, is completing her clinical fellowship with a special education co-op serving pre-K–12 public schools in central Texas. She blogs at Talkin’ With Twang, sharing her experiences working in public schools. kristin.immicke@gmail.com
    Kristin Immicke, MS, CF-SLP, is completing her clinical fellowship with a special education co-op serving pre-K–12 public schools in central Texas. She blogs at Talkin’ With Twang, sharing her experiences working in public schools. kristin.immicke@gmail.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / From My Perspective
From My Perspective   |   April 01, 2016
Inclusion: Friend or Foe?
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.FMP.21042016.8
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.FMP.21042016.8
Inclusion. I have to admit, the word made me cringe when I was a general education teacher. Honestly, I didn’t see the purpose of it. How could it do any good? How was I supposed to teach everyone in the room when some were so far behind? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if that one student was in a “special” classroom?
Sound familiar? I taught for seven years before starting graduate school for speech-language pathology—and the entire time, I misunderstood the purpose of inclusion and found it difficult to implement.
Now that I am on the other side of the discussion, I see the many benefits of inclusion for all students—but these benefits often get overlooked because successful inclusion can be challenging to implement. Just discussing inclusion can be challenging, so I offer some tips to ease the discussion for everyone.
Remember that inclusion is not a cookie-cutter classroom model. It looks very different for every school, classroom and student. Inclusion can mean spending anything from a few minutes to a full day in a general education classroom. Inclusion will be a new experience every time, because it should be designed to be appropriate for each student.

I see the many benefits of inclusion for all students—but these benefits often get overlooked because successful inclusion can be challenging to implement.

Keep the focus on the individual student. As educators, our purpose is to help our students learn. We need to remember this goal as we make inclusion decisions, and stay focused on the needs of the student. If a student can handle being in the general education classroom all day, that’s where the student needs to be. If less time is better for a particular student, that option should be discussed. The focus should never be about what is easier for us—the teachers and specialists—but rather what is best for our students. We serve them according to their individual needs.
Be understanding of everyone involved in the process. I know that many teachers view inclusion as inconvenient and stressful, especially without appropriate support. Be sure to listen to everyone’s concerns and fears. Discussing these concerns helps the IEP team devise the best possible plan of action and support system for each situation.

I know that many teachers view inclusion as inconvenient and stressful, especially without appropriate support. Be sure to listen to everyone’s concerns and fears.

Remain positive. It’s easy to focus on the negatives when discussing inclusion. It’s appropriate to discuss these challenges—such as the need to modify instruction or manage challenging behaviors—but the focus should be on positive outcomes. Successful inclusion hinges on the support that teachers and their students with disabilities receive, including appropriate IEPs and schedules, and assistance with modifying instructions and assignments so all children can be successful. The plan should consider the student’s strengths and areas of difficulty and allow the student opportunities to grow, gain independence, and celebrate every success, no matter how small.
Encourage teachers to use available resources. Special education teachers, SLPs, physical and occupational therapists, deaf educators and other specialists are great resources for teachers and one another. Our students’ classroom success depends on all of us working as a team for their best interests.
I often reflect on my years as a teacher and how I can use that experience to help the teachers and students I work with now as an SLP. Inclusion can be a challenge, but it doesn’t need to be a battlefield. Following these tips will help guide discussions, keep us all on the same side, and allow us to view inclusion as an important part of a student’s educational experience.
1 Comment
April 5, 2016
Stefanie Anastasia
Great Advice
I used to cringe at the thought of inclusion as well. I love your comment about the "cookie-cutter" classroom, and wish more administrators understood that inclusion is NOT an all or nothing proposition. I have seen inclusion work wonderfully for some students, and fall apart when not all the supports were put in place for lack of personnel - because in my experience, sometimes there needs to be more bodies in the classroom to help keep that teaching moment going. Great article :)
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April 2016
Volume 21, Issue 4