“In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act guaranteeing for the first time that all students with disabilities would receive a public education,” (Villa, v). This law’s name was changed to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990. I believe this was the starting point for inclusion in education.
My definition of inclusion comes from the legal definition of least restrictive environment (LRE). Students with disabilities and/or are handicapped will be educated with children who are not, as long as it is appropriate, helpful, and it is the right choice. These students can use aids and services to assist in success in a regular classroom.
I believe inclusion is a great idea. Children with and without disabilities can benefit from it. Both will get to experience very useful and important things that can be applied in and outside the classroom. Patience, understanding, social skills, and cooperation are some that come to mind. These advantages apply to the general population.
I think more extreme disabilities would be more difficult to use inclusion with. A disadvantage that could come with using inclusion with children with more severe disabilities is that they could become overwhelmed or frustrated if they are over stimulated. Another disadvantage would be a lack of learning. If the children with disabilities are requiring more help, it can be distracting to those without. If the children without disabilities are moving too quickly, talking, playing, etc. it could be a distraction to those with disabilities and those who need to pay more attention.
Here is a link with some resources for teachers who use inclusive classrooms: http://education.wm.edu/centers/ttac/resources/articles/inclusion/effectiveteach/
Villa, Richard A., and Jacqueline S. Thousand, eds. Creating and inclusive school. ASCD, 2005.