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June Hetzel, Ph.D.

Dr. Hetzel is the Dean and Professor of Education at Biola University and Interim Director of Biola Youth Academics.  She has 39 years of experience in teaching and administration, including roles as a classroom teacher, resource specialist, vice principal, principal, author, editor, professor, and dean. She is a credentialed reading specialist and has a heart for students who struggle with reading and writing. She has authored numerous resource books in literacy and edited multiple literacy textbook series. She has taken teaching teams to North Africa over four summers and has enjoyed speaking engagements in the U.S., Malta, Thailand, England, and Indonesia.

Robin LaBarbera, Ph.D.

Dr. LaBarbera is the Director of Special Education at Biola University, where she teaches classes on instructional strategies for students with special needs.  She is the author of the textbook, Educating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Partnering with Families for Positive Outcomes (Sage Publications, 2018), and she is a strong advocate for educators and families working together to benefit students with ASD.  Dr. LaBarbera is particularly passionate about promoting flourishing in families who are raising children with disabilities.

This professional development book, Inclusive Classrooms for Community Flourishing, promotes the value of all children, including children with learning differences, and promotes the idea of attending to individual learning needs and inclusion for all children in general education classrooms. The book is written for P-12 classroom educators, locally and globally, providing a basic introduction on practical steps for inclusion of children with learning difference into regular classrooms.

Each chapter of the book has been written at an introductory level, including definitions, symptomology, case studies, references, and reflective questions so that educational leaders might utilize this book as a resource for professional development. The chapter questions guide colleagues in discussion and reflection, analysis of case studies, and assistance towards integration of children with learning differences into classrooms with typically developing children.

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, there have been significant shifts towards inclusion and accommodation of individuals with special needs in the United States. ADA is a “civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public” (ADA, 2018, p. 1). ADA legislation focuses on five areas: equal employment opportunity for individuals with disabilities, nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in state and local government services, nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and in commercial facilities, telecommunications, and miscellaneous provisions. For the educational setting, “the most significant and positive change [of the Americans with Disabilities Act] is the inclusion of special needs children into mainstream classrooms” (Lawrence, 2018, para. 1). Educators around the world are recognizing the need for inclusion of children with special needs and learning differences into the general education classroom. Inclusion of children in the mainstream classroom has advantages for the students with learning differences, families of special needs students, typically developing students, and teachers of regular classrooms (Lawrence, 2018).

Advantages for Inclusion

Who Benefits from Inclusion?
The student with learning differences benefits through acceptance and belonging as well as accommodations for special learning needs. They are better prepared for life after graduating from school.
The families of students with learning differences rejoice, because their children are accepted by friends, teachers, and neighbors, and their children have an opportunity to learn with their peers. There is less stigma because the community is accepting of all children.
Typically developing children are advantaged because they learn that every person is different with a unique set of strengths to offer their community. They also grow in compassion and are better prepared for the life after graduating from school.
Teachers of mainstreamed students are advantaged as they strengthen their ability to differentiate curriculum to meet the needs of all learners in their classrooms. Teachers refine their ability to love students in all circumstances and situations in life. They serve their community with more intentionality and develop strengthened relationships with parents.

Advantages of inclusion for children with special needs varies by context. However, mainstreamed children with special needs have the advantage of observing their peers in the regular classroom and learning from them, just as the average child would in a typical school setting. In addition to the value added in the mainstreamed learning context, the full inclusion of children with special needs encourages the development of normal social and communication skills, which then prepares children for life after graduating from school. Excluding children with special needs from studying in the context of a general education population, isolates children with special needs, potentially inhibiting normal social, emotional, and communication skills that can be accelerated in the mainstreamed context (Lawrence, 2018).

Families of children with special needs love their children and desire the best for their children, educationally, socially, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally. The exclusion of children from the general education classroom can be hurtful and damaging from educational, social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual perspectives; whereas, the inclusion of children alongside their school peers can fulfill a parent’s dream and set the stage for children to flourish, opening doors for friendship and integration into school and neighborhood relationships. In essence, inclusion in the neighborhood school invites a normal social setting of acceptance, friendship, and inclusion into the neighborhood for both the children with special needs and their parents (Lawrence, 2018).

Typically developing children can also be advantaged educationally and socially by having peers who have learning differences in their classrooms. Typically developing students can be advantaged by forming friendships with peers who have special needs and learning from them. Typically developing students learn that everyone is different and has various strengths, gifts, capacities, and aptitudes, and while every human has limitations, everyone also has unique contributions to enrich their community. Typically developing children “learn about and appreciate people who are different. This can help kids prepare for life in an inclusive society” (Lawrence, 2018, Typically Developing Students section, para. 1).

Teachers in inclusive classrooms grow professionally as they serve increasingly diverse populations of students (LaBarbera, 2018; Sousa, 2007; Taylor, Oberle, Durlak, & Weissberg, 2017; Tomlinson, 2014; Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2014; Vaughn, Bos, & Schumm, 2014; Zwiers, 2014). When teachers approach teaching from an inclusive perspective, they grow in their communication with parents and peers, and collaboratively strategize to diversify and differentiate curriculum and teaching strategies to meet a wider range of learners in the classroom. Teachers also grow in compassion and understanding as they deepen their relationships with families and children with special needs, providing an opportunity to model for their students and community the opportunity to intentionally love their neighbors who are different from them.

Key Terms
Inclusion is the integration of children with special needs, such as learning, educational, psychological, or social/emotional needs, into the regular classroom.
Mainstreamed classrooms are the educational environments where children with special needs and learning differences are integrated with typically developing children.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the name of the legislation that legally required non-discriminatory practices, accommodations, and access for individuals with special needs across the United States.

Inclusion Values

            The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was a seismic shift across America that affected every area of life. In a typical day, Americans observe parking spaces for those with special physical needs, hear beeping signals at street intersections to assist those who are visually impaired in knowing when they can safely cross a street, see bathroom stalls large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, notice ramps on sidewalks to accommodate those who are physically disabled, see Braille on elevator buttons to assist those who are visually impaired, and numerous other accommodations for individuals with special needs. The Americans with Disabilities Act woke up American citizens to be inclusive of their neighbors with special needs in all areas of life, including neighborhoods, schools, and the marketplace.

            Essen Essentially, ADA assisted the American population in considering the needs of those who were different from themselves. As educators and parents of children with special needs, we seek to love our students, to do justice, and to help all of our students flourish to their potential. Psalm 92:12 states, “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” Inclusion is the right thing to do because it demonstrates love to our neighbors. Inclusion is good for everyone: the student, the family, the peers of the special needs student, the teacher, the neighborhood, and society. Inclusion is a nourishing posture and aspiration for all citizens, and society as a whole, as physical, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs are met for every individual – whether citizen, refugee, or short-term international guest.

            This book on inclusion is essentially a training in how to love our students. It is training in how to love and include students in the context of relationship and school. This book will specifically assist you in loving your students with learning differences by providing accommodations and inclusive learning strategies to assist them in reaching their potential. Values that are shared in inclusive community schools include: dignity, differentiation, and development (see Figure 1):

Dignity means that we value all individuals as uniquely gifted and talented with potential to positively contribute to society.

Differentiation means that we recognize learning differences and personalize instruction and curriculum so that all children might progress in their learning, growing in knowledge and wisdom.

Development means that we nurture all students to their fullest potential so that they might utilize their gifts and talents to contribute to community flourishing.

Figure 1: Values of the Inclusive Classroom

Ultimately, love and belongingness, two human relational needs (Maslow, 1943; Maslow, 1954) are at the center of an inclusive classroom. Children experience love and belongingness when they are shown dignity, have curriculum and instruction differentiated for them, and are developed to their fullest potential. We love each child and accept each child, in all of his or her unique characteristics, so that all children might flourish and contribute to our communities. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow, 1943, 1954, 2018), individuals have three categories of needs: basic needs, psychological needs, and self-fulfillment needs.

Basic Needs (Tier I): The first tier of needs, according to Maslow, includes basic physiological needs, such as food, water, and sleep. Safety needs are also included in this foundational level of basic needs and safety needs refers to physical safety and security. Most children with special needs or learning differences have their basic needs met, but this is not always the case. Without the foundational tier of basic needs met, it is difficult for children to have their psychological and self-fulfillment needs met (Maslow, 1943, 1954, 2018).

Psychological Needs (Tier II): Within the second tier of needs is belongingness and love. Belongingness and love needs can be met by loving families, loving friendships, and inclusive neighborhoods, schools, and societies. Esteem needs, also in tier II, refer to prestige and feelings of accomplishment (Maslow, 1943, 1954, 2018). A child with special needs or learning differences cannot experience prestige needs if they are not included in our schools and classrooms and neighborhoods where they can accomplish a course of study.

Self-actualization (Tier III) is at the top of the pyramid where individuals achieve their potential. Self-actualization is inclusive of cultivating an educational atmosphere where all children, regardless of their learning differences, can progress and achieve their potential, including creative activities, and earning a place in society where they provide a significant contribution (Maslow, 1943, 1954, 2018).

Figure 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (public domain)

             Inclusive classrooms are happy classrooms . . . gardens in which children can flourish. Inclusive classrooms minister to families and students alike. Parents of children with special needs experience love, acceptance, and belonging as they are served by their local school officials and classroom teachers, rather than having their children shunned in the neighborhood, relegated to a separate school, or potentially not accepted at any school. Typically developing children learn to love their peers in their uniqueness and to befriend them and to be enriched relationally and educationally.

Personal Narrative

My [June Hetzel’s] grandmother worked in a school for special needs children. She regularly brought young girls home from Sunshine School (a school for children with special needs) so I could play with them.

I befriended girls my age who were in wheel chairs, who had cerebral palsy, or other cognitive, emotional, or physical impairments. After the girls’ parents would pick them back up from my grandmother’s house, I would ask questions of my grandmother.

“Grandmother, why is Ellen in a wheel chair?”

“Grandmother, why is it hard to understand Sandy when she speaks?”

“Grandmother, why are Erin’s legs in braces?”

“Grandmother, why can’t Laura lift her sandwich to her mouth? Her arms seem so weak. She leans on the table and brings her mouth down to her sandwich.”

My grandmother would patiently answer each question. She would also tell me, “Junie, I want you to be friends with these special girls. I want you to love them.”

“I do love them Grandmother. They are my friends.”

“But I also want you to know how blessed you are to be friends with these girls in your community. We are not all the same. But, we are all human, and we have a desire to be loved and to belong and to contribute to our community.”

At the time, these friends of mine all went to separate schools than I did. But today, we include these friends, our children with special needs, and find that they flourish in included schools and communities (Lawrence, 2018), while their typically achieving peers also flourish (Lawrence, 2018) in love, compassion, and belongingness, better preparing them to be good citizens in our societies. In essence, we experience a heart change when we live in relationship with others and learn to love those who are different from us.

Societies that move towards inclusion are societies seeking to develop compassionate and loving citizens, seeking to provide justice and educational access for all individuals, even those who may have developmental delays, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or any type of learning differences. Clearly, there will be those who still choose to exclude, to hate, to harm, to shun, but citizens with good hearts, who want to do good to all citizens, will acknowledge in their hearts that as humans, we were created to flourish in community: love, belongingness, and acceptance of our neighbors. It is only our human brokenness that stands in the way and that is why we have governments and justice systems to watch over our citizens to honor what is good and to confront what is evil. Our governments and social systems, mayors, and educational leaders, are there to lead the way. Sadly, however, individually as humans, we often fail, and collectively we also often fail. However, globally, there is an awakening to the need to love and respect all learners, even those who have learning differences and there is growing legislation, regulations, and national celebrations around protecting and including individuals with special needs.

When I [June Hetzel] look back at my own educational career teaching in the P-12 system, I remember years where I happily included children from the local deaf school into my classrooms, when I worked with children with developmental delays and taught them to read, and when I worked with children with dyslexia and other processing disorders. I also happily worked with children who were immigrants, English Learners, and children who were gifted or twice exceptional with their own unique learning needs.

I also sadly confess that there were many times where I failed. For example, there was a time when my principal wanted to include a young man in our school who was quadriplegic. He was born healthy, but at age three he had an accident and had fallen from a swing and broken his neck. From that point on, he needed care around the clock, a full-time nurse, and a wheelchair and breathing machine.

I was strongly against this young man coming to our school, not because the young man was in a wheelchair, but because he constantly needed a nurse by his side, and he could not breathe on his own. The breathing machine would constantly make breathing noises, and I was afraid something would happen, that he would be at risk in the regular school environment, and that the other children would be frightened. My opinion was overruled, and the young child began his journey at our school.

The first teacher to receive the young boy with quadriplegia was highly stressed to include him in her general education classroom, but over time adjusted to his needs. The children had no problem, however, and the five-year-olds easily made friends with him. He completed his kindergarten year successfully. This young man began to be promoted from grade to grade. He would work with a tutor, turned out to be quite bright, and readily learned his academic material. He made a lot of friends and he fit in socially.

My heart softened as I saw him flourish and the children around him clamor to push him in the wheel chair and help him. The most joyous occasion in my memory was when, in grade five (he had been in our school for six years), he and another boy in a wheelchair (who happened to be the student body president) had a wheelchair race out on the blacktop. His face, so lonely and unanimated when he entered kindergarten, was ruddy from sunshine and joyous in expression. I then knew in my heart that all children, even those with special needs, needed to be fully included into our schools and given a chance to flourish so that our families, schools, and communities might be blessed from how our citizens with learning differences, enrich and gift our societies.

Along with experiences as a child and later as a professional, I decided to acquire specialized training in the area of reading disabilities. I was interested in reading development because, as I was learning to read as a young child, I struggled with eye teaming, visual processing, and comprehension. I still experience a great deal of eye fatigue when reading. I was, however, surprised to learn in my initial studies that approximately 1 in 5 children in the United States in K-12 struggle with the reading process. Although I was never diagnosed with dyslexia, we know that dyslexia, a reading disability, is neurobiological in origin and the most common subtype of specific learning disabilities (International Dyslexia Association, 2002; Lee & Pierson, 2018).  Siegel (2006) indicates that up to 5% to 10% of the world’s population has dyslexia (in Lee & Pierson, 2018), which naturally inhibits the acquisition of reading skills.

I [Robin LaBarbera] am an autism specialist who has authored several academic articles and a textbook on educating students with autism spectrum disorders, and I have presented to numerous international audiences (in Lebanon, Vietnam, India, Uganda, and Kenya) on the topic of autism and special needs. I developed a keen interest in the area of autism due to the growing rate of autism in our community.  Current statistics say that 1 in 68 children in the United States are identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).  A newer government survey of parents estimates that 1 in 45 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ASD (Zablotsky, Black, Maenner, Schieve, & Blumberg, 2015).

Equipping educators and families to best serve the needs of individuals with autism is something I feel called to do.  My latest research in the autism community included gathering data from over 1,038 parents about the stress, anxiety, and depression they experience in raising a child with autism, and the strategies they utilize to cope with the extreme pressure.

Oddly enough, my passion for working with children with special needs began with my first encounter with a juvenile criminal offender in my work as a probation counselor at Orange County Juvenile Hall.  A young man who was facing trial as an accused accomplice to murder asked if he could talk to me.  This young man, used to being rejected by adult figures in his life, was quite surprised, when he asked to speak with me and I said, “Yes.”  “Are you sure you want to talk to me?  I’m bad news.”  “Of course,” I replied, “you’re a human, and if you have something to say, I’m here to listen.”  He went on to tell me all of the abuse he had experienced from his father, who was completely unaccepting of his son’s learning disabilities.  I cannot repeat here the words the abusive father spoke to his son.  My heart was broken then, and continues to break for any marginalized child who experiences anything other than love, acceptance, and belonging.  Perhaps this compassion was born of my own childhood experiences of abuse, neglect, and abandonment as the only child of a mother with severe emotional disorders.

My deep love for children who experience difficult experiences continued to grow as an educator in K-12 classrooms. I have distinct memories of children in my Kindergarten class who seemed so bright and articulate had difficulty learning to read (I later learned these children had dyslexia).  I had another student in my 3rd grade classroom – a sweet boy named Raymond.  Raymond was quite a bit larger than his classmates, but far below their reading level.  So-called “experts” in the field informed me that he was “retarded” and would never be able to achieve academically above that grade level.  I knew that to be false!  Raymond could achieve, I was certain.  I believe he had dyslexia as well.  It became my passion to explore ways to help these young people, who I loved like they were my own children, to develop academic skills and experience human flourishing, despite what others may have presumed. To see human flourishing became my ultimate goal in my elementary school teaching days, and it is one that I carry with me, still.

The Urgency for Inclusive Classrooms

As you read this book, you will see that each chapter’s author(s) specialize in one particular area of learning differences. Please note that this book is not comprehensive and there are many other types and subtypes of learning differences. Our intention in writing this introductory book and partnering with Dr. Nabil Costa, Founder and President of Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences (SKILD) and Secretary of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, was to introduce educators across the globe to common types of learning differences and practical strategies to assist in including these children in our classrooms and school communities.

Currently, our California and U.S. population is seeing a disproportionate growth of children with special needs as compared to the typically developing P-12 population of students. We find disturbing statistics, such as “approximately 75 percent of students identified with [emotional behavioral disorders] (EBD) have been suspended or expelled from school at least once, and over 55 percent of students with EBD drop out of school due to low academic achievement and/or involvement with juvenile delinquency” (Chen, Symons, & Reynolds, 2011; Lane & Menzies, 2010; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2011; Wong-Lo, 2015 in Wong-Lo & Gonzalez, 2018, p. 5). Or, for example, it is also disturbing that gifted students comprise up to 10% of the population (D’Alessio, 2009 in Canillas and Stranske, 2018); however, some studies indicate that fewer than 20% of these students are appropriately challenged (Clark, 2002 in Canillas and Stranske, 2018). We, as educators, must pay attention to the learning differences of our student populations so that we have better outcomes for our society.

For us, inclusion is an urgent matter. In our global friendships and travels, we see that we are not alone and that educators all over the globe are seeking solutions as to how to best integrate individuals with special needs into their societies to promote human flourishing for all.

Chapter-by-Chapter Description of Content

 A knowledgeable approach to integrating students with special needs into the general education classroom is vital to a thriving inclusive environment.  The strategies presented in this book, Classrooms for Community Flourishing, by authors who are experts in their field, provide the tools for creating a classroom environment where students with special needs can experience love, acceptance, and belonging, so that they can reach their full potential.   The following section briefly highlights what each chapter in this book will cover. Chapters can be read in any order and are authored or co-authored by specialists in the field. Educational leaders, please consider assigning chapter readings ahead of meetings and utilize the case studies and questions as a way to involve your teaching faculty in meeting the needs of students with learning differences.

The case for including students with special needs in the general education classroom to help them reach their full potential is first made in, “Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Autism,” written by Dr. Robin LaBarbera, Director of Special Education, Biola University.  The prominence of autism in schools today makes it vital to develop awareness of the specialized supports these students need to experience success.  Strategies presented by Dr. LaBarbera in this chapter include behavior supports, classroom environmental supports, academic supports, and social supports—each designed to capitalize on the visual strengths of children with autism spectrum disorders.  Research has shown that visual practices, including organization of materials, use of visual instructions, graphic organizers, and visual cues of any kind can be beneficial for improving social and communication skills, decreasing time spent off task, and improving participation in the academic activities of the classroom (Case & Yun, 2015).  The characteristics of autism can present unique challenges to general educators.  For this reason, a chapter outlining the learning and social support services that are beneficial to students with autism was a central component of this chapter.

“Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Dyslexia,” written by Dr. Sung Hee Lee, Assistant Professor of Special Education, California State University, Fullerton and Dr. Melinda Pierson, Professor and Chair of Special Education at California State University, Fullerton, argues that reading skills are critical to success in the classroom and in life.  Given that students with dyslexia struggle with reading and writing skills, it is imperative that we utilize strategies such as graphic organizers, appropriate accommodations, collaborative learning, and assistive technology that are outlined in this chapter.  Multisensory experiences recommended by Drs. Lee and Pierson are vital components of instruction for students with dyslexia in the inclusive classroom.

“Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Speech and Language Impairment,” written by Dr. Tonya Dantuma, Associate Professor and Chair of the Speech, Language, and Pathology Program, School of Science, Technology and Health, at Biola University, suggests that teachers create language-rich classrooms, use a variety of teaching methods, and incorporate strategies for expressive and receptive language development in inclusive classrooms.  Dr. Dantuma reminds us that spoken language is the foundation for literacy and writing.  When children with speech and language disorders are empowered to make gains in spoken language, their reading and writing skills are more apt to improve.  Whether students present differences in receptive language (listening and reading), expressive language (speaking and writing), or both, the strategies presented in this chapter will help teachers provide appropriate support to each child in an inclusive classroom.

“Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Hearing Impairment,” written by Dr. Lori Newport, Audiologist, Speech Language Pathology Program, School of Science, Technology, and Health, Biola University, highlights the two types of hearing losses most commonly seen in K-12 inclusive classrooms and the detrimental effects of hearing loss on students’ speech, language, academic learning, reading, and social relationships.  Dr. Newport argues that, indeed, “There is help.”  She recommends that great effort should be made to bring the child to an audiologist for testing and fitting of hearing aids or cochlear implants.  However, in situations when the services of an audiologist are not available, there are accommodations that teachers can provide for students with hearing loss in the inclusive classroom. The strategies presented in this chapter can be used even when hearing devices are utilized.

The issue of visual impairments is presented in the chapter, “Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Visual Impairment,” authored by Dr. Denise Reid of the School of Education, Graduate Division, at Biola University.  In this chapter, Dr. Reid argues that we first identify the strengths that our students possess and set high expectations for their academic success.  Considering strengths before limitation is a concept woven throughout Dr. Reid’s chapter.  A key point of the chapter on strategies for our students with visual impairments is this: “The provision of accommodations in no way indicates the rigor of the curriculum has been compromised.  For students with visual impairments, accommodations provide an equitable platform by which these students can access the curriculum and begin to apply its concepts.”  For a student with visual impairments, it is important to evaluate the physical arrangement/layout of the classroom, so that potential hazards and distractions are minimized, ensuring a safe and accessible classroom.  The chapter also provides various instructional tools useful throughout all of the subject areas.  Such tools are dependent on the student’s degree of vision loss.

“Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with ADD/ADHD,” authored by Biola University School of Education professors Dr. Dennis Eastman, Associate Professor and Director of Secondary Education; Dr. Carolyn Bishop, Associate Professor and Director of Elementary Education; and Dr. Robin LaBarbera, Director of Special Education, School of Education, Biola University, includes discussion on the increased prevalence of students requiring educational services for ADHD to today’s classrooms.  The authors of this chapter assert that instructors who work to provide daily structure and consistency, and who employ multi-sensory instruction that addresses a variety of learning styles, will find that students with ADHD are highly capable of being successful in the general education classroom.  Following a discussion of therapeutic pharmaceuticals (medication) shown to be effective in alleviating some of the symptoms of ADHD, the authors present a number of strategies, ranging from behavioral supports to classroom supports, that provide an effective learning environment, allowing students with ADHD to thrive. Drs. Eastman, Bishop, and LaBarbera also present strategies and supports to address social skills in students with ADHD.  Above all, the authors caution parents/caregivers and teachers to never assume that the behaviors of the child with ADHD are exhibited “on purpose,” or label them “troublemakers,” “disrespectful,” or “disruptive.”  Labels such as these serve only to alienate a child.  Instead, through consistent effort, students with ADHD can be fully supported in their learning and achieve academic and social success.  The authors of this chapter assert that through understanding and acceptance of those who learn differently, skilled educators can provide necessary supports that address the unique challenges that students with ADHD bring to the classroom.

Biola University professors Julie Neiggeman, Assistant Professor of Nursing, and Rachel Van Niekerk, Associate Professor and Chair of Nursing, both from the School of Science, Technology, and Health, authored the chapter on “Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Physical and Health Impairments.” Common childhood conditions such as cerebral palsy are discussed in the chapter, along with common treatments such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies, orthotic devices, medications, and specialized educational programs developed to meet their needs.  Treatment for cerebral palsy focuses on preserving and maximizing motor function.  Other health conditions and physical impairments that present challenges in the classroom are discussed, and the chapter’s authors, Neiggemann and Van Niekerk (2018), recommend that educators “be aware of these challenges and work to empower these students by minimizing obstacles and maximizing freedom and independence wherever and whenever possible” (p. 7).  It is important that the educator become aware of the individual needs of each affected student in order to maximize learning opportunities and develop student-centered instructional activities. Professors Neiggemann and Van Niekerk (2018) remind us that, “While having students in your classroom with any of the discussed physical or health impairments may seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that they deserve the same respect and support in the classroom as any of the other children. All children should thrive in the classroom setting, feel like they belong, build friendships, and progress academically” (p. 19).

“Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Emotional/Psychological/Behavioral Disorders,” authored by Mickie Wong-Lo, Associate Professor of Special Education, School of Education, Biola University, discusses inclusion tips for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) that promote the cultivation of a positive climate of learning and responsive practices in the classroom. Students with emotional and behavioral disorders often lack the desire or motivation to try and succeed academically due to their negative experiences in school. To reframe their academic perception, teachers must take a proactive approach to effectively support students that are experiencing emotional and behavioral challenges. There is no single blueprint that truly captures the diverse needs of students with EBD; however, through careful consideration of evidence-based practices and inclusive strategies highlighted in this chapter, educators can progress one step closer to discover the unique attributes hidden within each student with emotional and behavioral disorders.

“Inclusive Strategies for Individuals with Developmental Delays,” authored by Dr. Joanne Van Boxtel, Assistant Professor in the Education Department at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, advises teachers to “presume competence” (p. 5). “When teachers presume competence,” says Dr. Van Boxtel (2018), “they adopt the philosophy that all students can learn when given the opportunity and the right supports. Some students with more significant intellectual disabilities are going to need lots of repetition and patience from the teacher in order to learn and master new skills. Therefore, making expected progress toward academic and/or behavioral goals may take time” (p. 5).  In the chapter, the author shares several key adaptation techniques that teachers can apply in any curricular context to enable students with disabilities to flourish in the inclusive classroom, such as systematic instruction, prompting hierarchy, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), peer supports, and functional skills.  The strategies outlined in this chapter also include examples for how they may be applied in a classroom scenario.

“Inclusive Strategies for Gifted Individuals,” written by Jenna Canillas, Associate Professor, Teacher Education Division, School of Education, at Biola University, and Dr. Tim Stranske, Professor in Graduate Studies and Associate Dean, School of Education, Biola University, introduces strategies that teachers can use to provide appropriate challenges to students who are gifted.  “Though students with giftedness may excel academically, teachers often overlook their unique needs to focus on students who are struggling with the material,” according to Canillas and Stranske (2018, p. 3).  Unfortunately, such practices (withholding appropriate challenges to advanced students) diminishes the achievement of all students.  Strategies for nurturing the intellectual abilities and talents with students who are gifted represent a different approach to teaching and learning, but they are important techniques to employ for helping all students reach their potential.  Creating optimal learning environments for the gifted includes appropriate and flexible grouping, significant interaction with intellectual peers, use of students’ interests and levels of knowledge and ability, a differentiated and individualized curriculum, and a focus on areas of strength, for example.  In this chapter, the authors carefully navigate through many examples of how to differentiate the curriculum and enhance the learning experience for students who are gifted.

Final Comments

As you utilize this book for professional development, keep in mind the critical importance of considering how the inclusive strategies introduced impact the social, emotional, educational, spiritual, and psychological development of each child, each family, each classroom, each school, and each community. The case studies and questions, in particular, will assist you, as the facilitator or participant, to process the strategies in a multiple worlds context. See Figure 3.

Figure 3: The Child’s Multiple Worlds

Questions for General Reflection:
1.     As you consider the values associated with an inclusive classroom, such as dignity, differentiation, and development (see Figure 1), how do you see these values permeating your classroom or school?
2.     As you consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Figure 2), how would you envision love, acceptance, and belongingness serving children and families with special needs?
3.     As you consider the multiple worlds model (Figure 3), how is a child’s family, classroom, school, and community affected positively or negatively by your school’s approach to inclusion?
4.     Both of the editors have personal experiences that motivated them towards advocacy for children with learning differences. What have your personal experiences been as it relates to children with learning differences? What are your colleagues’ personal experiences as it relates to children with learning differences? How might your collective experiences inform how you approach inclusion in your classroom, school, and community?





ADA (March 21, 2018). Retrieved from  “What is the Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA)?”

Canillas, J. & T. Stranske (2018 in press). “Inclusive Strategies for Gifted Individuals.” Chapter in Inclusive Classrooms for Community Flourishing. Beruit, Lebanon: SKILD.

Case, L., & Yun, J.  (2015).  Visual practices for children with autism spectrum disorders in physical activity.  Palestra, 29(3), 21-25.

Chen, C., Symons, F,  & Reynolds, A. (2011). Prospective analysis of childhood factors and antisocial behavior for students with high incidence disabilities. Behavioral Disorders, 37, 5-18.

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