- LAST REVIEWED: 05 August 2020
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0098
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 August 2020
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0098
People with severe disabilities are considered to have the following disabilities: severe intellectual disability (formerly referred to as “mental retardation”), autism, deaf-blindness, and multiple disabilities. They present great learning, behavioral, personal, social, physical, and sensory challenges and have extensive support needs (e.g., related service providers, paraprofessionals, peer tutors). Additionally, a number of these individuals may have serious medical and health-care needs and be dependent on medical technology (e.g., mechanical ventilator, gastric feeding tube). Historically, those with severe disabilities have been some of the most devalued, persecuted, and marginalized people. Because of their learning and support needs, expectations for students and adults with severe disabilities have been low, as it was thought they had limited capacity to acquire, process, and apply information and achieve a true level of independence or competency. However, with changing attitudes in the 1970s about equity, disability rights, and social acceptance, a growing body of research literature emerged that demonstrated that individuals with severe disabilities have a much greater learning capacity than previously thought. For much of the last century, the primary curricular focus has been on teaching functional community and daily living skills. This was driven by the belief of the professional community and parents that acquisition and application of such skills would enhance the independence of individuals with severe disabilities, and, in turn, increase their social integration and acceptance. To further promote social acceptance, research was conducted in the 1980s and 1990s that examined ways to increase the social competence of individuals with severe disabilities. In the late 1990s, following changes in general educational policy and social opinion, there was growing consensus that students with severe disabilities can indeed benefit from academic instruction, and that such instruction—particularly in the areas of literacy, mathematics, and science—should be provided. Further, in the last forty years or so, there has been a shift in thinking about educational placement. Currently, there is general consensus that people with severe disabilities need to be served and participate in inclusive or integrated school and community settings (e.g., supported employment, community-based living) and not in segregated or sheltered settings as previously thought. This article presents annotated citations regarding educational, community living, and social practices that have enhanced the education, integration, and acceptance of persons with severe disabilities, and advanced the quality of educational and social services they receive. The headings represent domains or topics most relevant for this population (Note: Both recent and classic references are included).
As perspectives on curricula have shifted across the course of the last four decades, our thinking about educational placement also has changed. The commonly held view now is that people with severe disabilities should receive their education in inclusive or integrated school settings. Early work in the area of inclusion for students with severe disabilities was fueled by books such as Stainback and Stainback 1992 on curriculum considerations and Downing 1996 on practical strategies, which teachers could use, on a daily basis, to facilitate successful inclusion. Although there are reasons for optimism with documented demonstrations published in Janney and Snell 1997 showing how teachers include students with severe disabilities in their classes, much more progress needs to be made. The views of typical developing students are an important consideration as the process of inclusion is planned, and Schnorr 1990 provides the perceptions of one class of students as they interacted with a student who was a part-time member of their class. Giangreco, et al. 1993 discusses the transformation of teachers as they were including and counting a student with a severe disability. Hunt and Goetz 1997 reviews investigations on inclusionary practices and found six emerging themes, including the importance of parental involvement, gains made by both students with and without disabilities, and the necessity of collaboration among school personnel for successful inclusionary practice. Hughes and Carter 2008 focuses on using peer buddies as part of a successful change-agent team, and Jorgensen, et al. 2010 with the “Beyond Access” model provide additional guidance for promoting membership, participation, and learning in the general education classroom. Carter, et al. 2016 conducted a randomized controlled experiment which examined peer support arrangements to improve academic and social outcomes for students with severe disabilities in high school settings, concluding that those students in the experimental group made greater gains in interactions with peers, academic engagement, and other areas. Work documented by Horn, et al. 2000; and Odom, et al. 2011 addresses the progress of young children in inclusive settings. De Boer and Munde 2015 reviewed parental attitudes toward inclusion for children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities in a country outside the United States, the Netherlands.
Carter, Erik W., Jennifer Asmus, Colleen K. Moss, et al. 2016. Randomized evaluation of peer support arrangements to support the inclusion of high school students with severe disabilities. Exceptional Children 82.2: 209–233.
In a randomized controlled experiment, authors examined the efficacy of peer support to improve academic and social outcomes for students with severe disabilities (n = 51 experimental group; n = 48 control group). Students participating in the experimental group—namely, those receiving peer support—increased interactions with peers, increased academic engagement, made more progress on individualized social goals, increased social participation, and made a greater number of new friendships.
de Boer, Anke A., and Vera S. Munde. 2015. Parental attitudes toward the inclusion of children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities in general primary education in the Netherlands. The Journal of Special Education 49.3: 179–183.
The present study focuses on the attitude of parents and relating variables concerning their experiences with individuals with disabilities. A self-report questionnaire was completed by 190 parents of children attending general primary schools in the north of the Netherlands. In general, parents showed an overall positive attitude; however, they were most negative about the inclusion of children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities.
Downing, June E. 1996. Including students with severe and multiple disabilities in typical classrooms. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
This book describes successful ways that students with severe disabilities can be included in general education classrooms. Methods and adaptations are described for preschool, elementary, and secondary-age children. Ways to effectively get people resources are examined.
Giangreco, Michael F., Ruth Dennis, Chigee Cloninger, Susan Edelman, and Richard Schattman. 1993. “I’ve counted Jon”: Transformational experiences of teachers educating students with disabilities. Exceptional Children 59.4: 359–372.
This paper describes experiences of general education teachers who had a student with severe disabilities in their class. Interviews were used to gather results. Despite teachers’ initial negative reactions to the placement, most found transforming experiences to be positive and beneficial to the students with disabilities, their classmates, and the teachers themselves. Teachers also described support services that are necessary for success.
Horn, Eva, Joan Lieber, Shouming Li, Susan Sandall, and Ilene Schwartz. 2000. Supporting young children’s IEP goals in inclusive setting through embedded learning opportunities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education 20.4: 208–223.
Case studies were conducted in three separate inclusive early childhood education programs located in three different states, which included four children with disabilities and their classroom teachers. Teachers demonstrated increases in use of instructional behaviors toward targeted objectives while children demonstrated concomitant increases in performance of targeted objectives.
Hughes, Carolyn, and Erik W. Carter. 2008. Peer buddy programs for successful secondary school inclusion. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
This book describes how to set up, implement, and evaluate a peer buddy program for students at the secondary level. The book is a practical, teacher-friendly text and includes program forms, instructional checklists, and case studies. Additionally, a research basis for peer buddy programs is presented.
Hunt, Pam, and Lori Goetz. 1997. Research on inclusive educational programs, practices, and outcomes for students with severe disabilities. Journal of Special Education 31.1: 3–29.
Authors reviewed four special education journals to gauge the state of research on inclusive practices for students with severe disabilities. Outcomes revealed six major themes: (a) parents’ perceptions of the pursuit and impact of inclusive educational placement, (b) issues and practices in inclusive schools and classrooms, (c) the cost of inclusive educational placement, (d) educational achievement outcomes for students in inclusive classrooms, and (e) social relationships and friendships in inclusive settings.
Janney, Rachel, and Martha E. Snell. 1997. How teachers include students with moderate and severe disabilities in elementary classes: The means and meaning of inclusion. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps 22.3: 159–169.
An ethnographic study that investigated different ways in which special and general education teachers included students in five elementary schools. Authors describe modifications made to teachers’ roles and classroom routines. Instructional activities are also discussed.
Jorgensen, Cheryl, Michael McSheehan, and Renee Sonnenmeier. 2010. The Beyond Access model: Promoting membership, participation, and learning for students with disabilities in the general education classroom. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
A guide for educators on supporting students with disabilities as important members within the general education classroom. Focus is on moving students beyond simple access to meaningful membership and participation in the classroom with purposeful concentration on academic learning in the general education curriculum.
Odom, Samuel L., Virginia Buysee, and Elena Soukakou. 2011. Inclusion for young children with disabilities: A quarter century of research perspectives. Journal of Early Intervention 33.4: 344–356.
A summary of synthesis points focuses on critical outcomes for children with disabilities, necessary organizational supports, collaboration among professionals, role of specialized instruction, and benefits for typically developing children. Factors that may affect early childhood inclusion in the future are addressed.
Schnorr, Roberta. 1990. “Peter? He comes and goes. . .”: First graders’ perspectives on a part-time mainstream student. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps 15.4: 231–240.
Features one first grade class and its perceptions of a student with severe disabilities who interacted with normal first graders when he attended their class on a part-time basis. Children’s reactions were positive and demonstrate how inclusion can be beneficial for all involved.
Stainback, Susan, and William Stainback. 1992. Curriculum considerations in inclusive classrooms: Facilitating learning for all students. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
This book focuses on how curriculum can be designed, modified, and delivered in schools that are attempting to include students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms. Discussed here are curriculum adaptation and delivery, as well as curriculum selection and modification.
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- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- Advocacy and Activism in Early Childhood
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alaska Native Education
- Alternative Certification Programs for Educators
- Alternative Schools
- American Indian Education
- Art Education
- Artificial Intelligence and Learning
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Assistive Technology
- Augmented Reality in Education
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Case Study in Education Research
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Citizenship Education
- Civic and Social Engagement of Higher Education
- Classroom Learning Environments: Assessing and Investigati...
- Classroom Management
- Coherent Instructional Systems at the School and School Sy...
- College Admissions in the United States
- College Athletics in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Evaluating Improvement Net...
- Continuous Improvement and "High Leverage" Educational Pro...
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Perspectives on Educational Innovation and Improv...
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Cross-National Research on Continuous Improvement
- Cross-Sector Research on Continuous Learning and Improveme...
- Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Design Thinking and the Learning Sciences: Theoretical, Pr...
- Development, Moral
- Dialogic Pedagogy
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Digital Citizenship
- Digital Divides
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Doctoral Education and Training
- Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Europe
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Pedagogy
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Science
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Polici...
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education for Sustainable Development
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education of Native Hawaiian Students
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Educator Partnerships with Parents and Families with a Foc...
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Equity and Improvement: Engaging Communities in Educationa...
- Equity, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Excellence in Education
- Ethical Research with Young Children
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
- Family and Community Partnerships in Education
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Future-Focused Education
- Gender and Achievement
- Gender and Alternative Education
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Growth of Effective Mental Health Services in Schools in t...
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education Faculty Characteristics and Trends in the...
- Higher Education Finance
- Higher Education Governance
- Higher Education Graduate Outcomes and Destinations
- Higher Education in Africa
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in Latin America
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Management
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- High-stakes Testing
- History of Early Childhood Education in the United States
- History of Education in the United States
- History of Technology Integration in Education
- Inclusion in Early Childhood: Difference, Disability, and ...
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Indigenous Learning Environments
- Indigenous Students in Higher Education in the United Stat...
- Infant and Toddler Pedagogy
- Inservice Teacher Education
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- International Perspectives on Academic Freedom
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership in Early Childhood Education
- Leadership Training with an Emphasis on the United States
- Learning Analytics in Higher Education
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Learning Strategies
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- LGBT Youth in Schools
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement for Improvement in Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodological Approaches for Impact Evaluation in Educati...
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multiliteracies in Early Childhood Education
- Multiple Documents Literacy: Theory, Research, and Applica...
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Museums, Education, and Curriculum
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Native American Studies
- Numeracy Education
- One-to-One Technology in the K-12 Classroom
- Online Education
- Open Education
- Organizing for Continuous Improvement in Education
- Organizing Schools for the Inclusion of Students with Disa...
- Outdoor Play and Learning
- Outdoor Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education
- Pedagogical Leadership
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Podcasts in Education
- Policy Context of United States Educational Innovation and...
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology Use in Special Education Programs and ...
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Productivity and Higher Education
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research Samp...
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Relational and Developmental Trauma and Schools
- Reliability in Educational Assessments
- Religion in Elementary and Secondary Education in the Unit...
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Research-Practice Partnerships in Education within the Uni...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- Scale and Sustainability of Education Innovation and Impro...
- Scaling Up Research-based Educational Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School District Budgeting and Financial Management in the ...
- School Improvement through Inclusive Education
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Standards-Based Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Access, Equity, and Diversity in Higher Education
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Learning, Development, Engagement, and Motivation ...
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Sustainability Education in Early Childhood Education
- Sustainability in Early Childhood Education
- Sustainability in Higher Education
- Teacher Beliefs and Epistemologies
- Teacher Collaboration in School Improvement
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teacher-Student Relationships
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technologies, Teaching, and Learning in Higher Education
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- Technology-based Assessment
- The Bologna Process
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Three Conceptions of Literacy: Media, Narrative, and Gamin...
- Tracking and Detracking
- Traditions of Quality Improvement in Education
- Transformative Learning
- Transitions in Early Childhood Education
- Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities in the Unite...
- Understanding the Psycho-Social Dimensions of Schools and ...
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Using Ethnography in Educational Research
- Value of Higher Education for Students and Other Stakehold...
- Virtual Learning Environments
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Wellness and Well-Being in Education
- Women's and Gender Studies
- Young Children and Spirituality
- Young Children's Learning Dispositions
- Young Children's Working Theories