Not enough to put special needs children in mainstream environment

There is still a fundamental lack of understanding among mainstream children about children with special needs (Schoolchildren's attitude towards those with special needs worrying, by Ms Swee Bee Lan; July 30).

Putting more children with special needs in mainstream schools may not be sufficient to improve and promote understanding.

More importantly, children with special needs studying in mainstream schools may also lack the specialised attention and treatment they need to help them improve their condition.

A critical first step to truly help children with special needs is to ensure that they receive the appropriate educational intervention they need on an ongoing basis and of adequate intensity and frequency.

Mainstream schools are unlikely to be able to provide such specialised education services due to their focus on mainstream education for the majority.

Only when these children with special needs are receiving the necessary intervention that they require can they truly reach their fullest potential.

Only then should we consider a more structured approach of creating opportunities of interaction and exposure between children with special needs and their mainstream peers.

Such situations should be guided by teachers and have objective goals to create teaching and learning moments to foster understanding between the two groups.

Dino Trakakis

Director

Autism Recovery Network (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Not enough to put special needs children in mainstream environment'. Print Edition | Subscribe