Communities like Pasadena, are reevaluating strategies regarding inclusion for special education. The urgency stems from parents and teachers, but the largest impetus is the sheer number of new students entering the system with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. There are two common solutions to handle educating these kids. One is to create more special day classes for children with special needs. The other is to integrate these kids into typical classrooms, most of which already exist. Advocates for the later, have argued that inclusion is ethical, practical and easier to implement. Advocates for special classrooms point to accommodations that better cater to the needs of ASD students.
In today’s economy, these arguments are less relevant. Educators and Parents are beginning to see viable benefits in creating an inclusive environment. Discussions point to the pragmatic benefits of inclusion, beyond ethics. It takes time, expertise and money to create special classes for ASD students. These resources are dwindling. To make matters worse, ASD expertise in the classroom is not growing at the rate that new ASD students are enrolling. Inclusion allows ASD teachers, therapist and other professionals an opportunity to provide much needed training to regular classrooms. As an added bonus, these same professionals can provide the required accommodations. The idea is that inclusive environments promote expertise for those that would otherwise not be exposed to special needs. Proponents of inclusion argue that the lack of special needs expertise excludes ASD students from "real world" situations.
There is another practical application for inclusion that benefits ASD students and typically developing students – exposure. Typically developing kids gain educational benefits, like empathy, patience and nurturing. An average child is bound to come across the growing number of special needs children. By exposing children to each other in a controlled environment, opportunities to increase awareness of ASD, early on, are possible. “Inclusionists” hope to lessen the stigma that exists for ASD children by educating society. Parents also benefit from this type of exposure because their children gain insights about their world as it more accurately exists.