Mainstreaming is where students with disabilities are placed in the regular classroom. It allows the student to be accepted by their peers and have the education that all students should have. When I started the first grade in 1971, I was with students who had a disability, and the teacher had experience helping the students with their daily needs. In today’s school setting, students are placed in the regular classrooms at the local school.

Low Reading and Math Levels

Due to the low reading scores and math levels, I was placed in special education classes. I needed a lot of one-on-one or more attention from a special education teacher. At that time, I believe there was an unspoken presumption that children with disabilities could not function in a regular classroom.

Presumption Overcome and Refuted

mainstreaming disabled studentsMainstreaming is a process by which disabled students are placed in regular classes alongside their nondisabled peers. The student with a disability is required to perform at the same academic level as the other students in his or her classes. This is the state from a process of inclusion, in which the student with a disability is not required to function at the same level as their nondisabled peers, even though the terms are frequently used interchangeably.

Mainstreaming was a new and gradual process when I was mainstreamed in 1976 – I was grateful for the fact that my classroom teachers gradually introduce me into regular classes. Over time I proved my ability to function. I am not certain that I could’ve handled a complete class schedule at the age of 11 or 12, but I was able to prove my ability to function over time.


I remember feeling the fear that I would not be able to succeed, this fear gave me a relentless desire to succeed, I would do everything possible to succeed academically, even if it meant endless hours of study and toil. With hard work, I did succeed.

Advantages of Mainstreaming for Children with Disabilities

My life experience illustrates one of the main benefits of mainstreaming, it is that a child with a disability can grow and improve his or her ability to learn when being challenged. The first class, in which I was mainstreamed was music it was an elective in my middle school and I do not consider to have been academically challenging, the next year I was placed in a science class along with the social studies class. I attended regular classes in high school in 1979.

An Opportunity Meeting Girls

Socially the experience was fantastic, I was blessed to have nice young ladies push me to my next class. Mainstreaming gave me an opportunity to learn social skills. Interacting in school helps the student to ask for help which allows the individual to be more independent.

Advantages for Non-disabled Children

Students without a disability receive the benefit of meeting children with disabilities, as a result of meeting children with disabilities – other students may develop compassion and empathy. It is also possible that under some classroom models the nondisabled students may be able to tutor the students with disabilities in areas where they are stronger.

Disadvantages of Mainstreaming

Teachers in regular classes do not have the skill and training of a special education teacher. Lack of experience with disabled children may create unrealistic expectations for the student. The expectations of teachers must be set at the right level for each student in order to be appropriate. Throughout my education, my teachers had a full understanding of what I could achieve. Can the expectations be set too low the student may not grow academically?

If the expectations are set too high the student will not exceed and achieve, classroom teachers may not understand the needs of the student with a disability. The student with the disability may not receive the physical care that they need, it should be noted that in today’s school environment this is an unlikely scenario, schools are required to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Under this act, no entity receiving federal funds may discriminate on the basis of disability. This means the needs of the student with a disability must be met to the same extent as the needs of children without disabilities. In Section 504, they define what a disability is so a student must be evaluated to determine if they have a disability or not.

students with teacher - mainstreaming

Disadvantages for Students Without Disabilities

Students without disabilities may be deprived of needed teacher time because disabled students require more attention. Students without disabilities may become resentful because disabled peers received more attention.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Schools

The school districts receive funding from the state’s Department of Education for every disabled student under their care so having more students with disabilities get more money.

The state and federal education budgets are being reduced teachers and schools are required to do more with less funding.

The effect of mainstreaming overall is positive, both from the perspective of the student with a disability and their nondisabled peers. It’s important to note that a mainstream environment is not best for every student, parents and teachers must make the decision that works best in light of the needs of the individual student. My parents made the choice to allow me to be mainstreamed in the public school. If my father had been given the choice he would’ve allowed my younger sister with a hearing impairment to attend the Philadelphia school for the deaf. Each child has different skills needs and abilities. Ideally, each student should study in the environment that is best for this. I strongly urge the parents reading this post to evaluate all services available to determine what is best for their child.

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