The field of educating children with handicaps has been around for at least seventy-five years. Historically, educational programs were residential institutions or special private schools. These schools were state-supported dealing with the severely disabled child or severe mental retardation.
Change in educating handicapped children was in part brought about by the development of a large number of parent groups during the early 1950’s. Many of these groups were attached to a particular type of disability. One of the earliest groups is the National Association for Retarded Children. They began to look at legislation, educational programs, and the responsibilities of the board of education.
The federal government began a variety of new programs. New, separate programs for handicapped children were being created. Special training for teachers of handicapped students was created, when it became apparent that there was not sufficient numbers of specialized teachers.
In the early 1970’s major changes in the educational programs for handicapped children occurred. A number of legal challenges occurred against the traditional education practices for these children. Handicapped children had been classified as in-eligible for services in public educational programs. Court rulings forced handicapped children to be mainstreamed back into the general educational schools.
There has to be a direct connection between the degree of handicap and the success of mainstreaming. If a child is severely handicapped, he or she would not gain from attending a general public school. What makes a handicapped child different from a regular student is the degree to which the child needs special instruction in the regular classroom.
A child that is blind can attend a regular classroom. He or she listens and learns by hearing, and could adjust to and succeed in regular classroom instruction. Special modification would have to take place for reading and blackboard work. They...