Before proceeding with the argument as to why children with moderate needs should be included in general education classrooms, we should note that we are not arguing here that all children should be mainstreamed. Children with greater than moderate needs (such as many with autism or very low IQs) may well be bets served by self-contained special education classes. There are still those who argue that all children can be mainstreamed, but they are becoming fewer and fewer (viz. DeVries & Kohlberg 97).
Many of those who once advocated for universal mainstreaming have been deeply disappointed by attempts to do so. This disappointment was so deep because the idea of mainstreaming held – at least for some educators and families, at least for a while – such a bright promise for so many children who were markedly different from their peers. For years such children had been denied access not only to the educational opportunities available to other students but also to the social interactions that are also such an important part of the school experience. Moreover, mainstreaming seemed to offer an end to some of the worst of the stigmatization that children with developmental difficulties had been made to suffer.
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