Top Challenges Teachers Face in Special Needs Inclusive Classrooms

As a mother of a child that has been in a fully inclusive classroom since preschool, I have seen the ups and downs, advantages and challenges of this type of classroom setting.

Inclusion classrooms are a wonderful concept but it takes a lot of training, patience and compassion on the part of these teachers. Because fully inclusive classrooms have students across the educational and developmental spectrum, ranging from typically developing students to severe and profoundly disable students, it becomes a challenge for the teacher to find balance to serve all the students.

What are the top challenges teachers faces in a special needs inclusive classroom? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Lack of experience in an inclusion setting. Some teachers have not been exposed to special needs classrooms and this can be a disadvantage. Educators need to coordinate efforts and understand the needs of the classroom in terms of developing skills and lesson plans.
  • Lack of experience dealing with severe and profound disabilities. Students with severe and profound require more adaptation and medical attention than the average student. Teachers must be skilled in handling severe disabilities and create lesson plans based on individual abilities and adhere to dietary needs of the child. Lack of experience can lead to the child not progressing with skills or cause of adverse medical incidents.
  • Including all students in all activities. Special needs inclusion classrooms must be able to involve its students in all classroom activities. Teachers need to address how the classroom will communicate with each other and encourage participation. If there is a lack of adaptive equipment or adaptive communication and language tools, it makes it difficult for teachers to function as a united classroom.
  • Educating students with less severe disabilities. When there are children of all abilities in the classroom, both physical and academic, children in the middle can easily fall between the cracks. These children can have learning disabilities, hearing impairments, ADD or language delays to name a few. Providing the right amount of attention and adaptation can be challenging, especially if there is a higher teacher to student ratio.
  • Dealing with death. Death is difficult for any teacher to explain to their classroom. When you have a special needs inclusive classroom, there may be students with chronic illnesses and teachers may have to deal with the death of a student.
  • Shortage of teacher aides. Normally, inclusive classrooms have a regular educator and special needs educator. Due to the nature of the classroom and size, it is imperative that there be an appropriate number of teacher aides to assist the teachers with day to day activities.
  • Teaching compassion to students. Not all students have been exposed to persons with special needs and this becomes a challenge to teachers. Teachers must not tolerate insensitiveness and cruelness and teach that all students are to be treated with respect, regardless of ability.
  • Dealing with parents of “typically developing” students. As some students are not use to dealing with persons with special needs, parents are no exception. Teachers need to convey to parents how the classroom is conducted and that all educational needs will be met.
  • Individualized lesson plans. Because there are varying abilities in the classroom, teachers can be challenged to address individual academic needs based on ability.
  • Coordinating therapies. A special needs inclusion classroom needs to be well organized and allow for students to attend therapy sessions. However, this becomes a challenge in planning day to day activities and keeping all students engaged and learning.

Although many schools are moving towards special needs inclusive classrooms, there are a number of issues or challenges that need to be addressed. Preparing and training a teacher is the first step in making special needs inclusive classrooms a success.

Comments 17 comments

Ryan Clinton profile image

Ryan Clinton 6 years ago from room17art@yahoo.com

Many schools require special needs students to be mainstreamed and do not provide the teacher with the information required to provide the special help. In an ideal world teachers will learn and do all they can but when teachers have 150 students it can be difficult to learn about individual students quickly. Inclusion should be a carefully planned process for the welfare of the child. Thanks for the hub.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wonderfully written. All great points. As a special education teacher, I've seen many of these issues first hand. Inclusion is done with the best of intentions, but I think that a lot of teachers just aren't prepared for it. I wish that teacher education programs were doing more to address this.


Mukuli Peter 5 years ago

Inclusion in developing countries like Zimbabwe is still a big challenge because most schools were built without the requisite infrastructure, equipment and facilities. Most regular schools therefore need to be upgraded before they can accommodate and include learners of different abilities. This places budgetary constraints on responsible authorities and the government.


sticks 5 years ago

Iclusion shoul start at childhooh level at home . Parents and the community at large should incoorparate children with special needs in all facets of life.We shoul see disabled people representing others in education,politics,sports and everywhere.


Ndango Algred, student teacher 4 years ago

Inclusive education is really another thing in Namibia. schools do have extra classes for inclusive children and you will find that these children are being forced to attend school with able learners, but really these leaners do not used to endup anywhere since the government can not even carter for all these children. I think its time our government has to look at this problem and take it into consideration because even the teachers who are teaching inclusive classrooms are not being trained for them to requier enough skills which they will be able to deal with this situation.


Francis ekwau 4 years ago

Teaching inclusive classes requires teachers to be able to asses the level of special need in a learner ranging from mild, severe and profound. The be able to plan what is worth for all. Tr. Of special needs Uganda.


Francis ekwau Uganda 4 years ago

Teaching inclusive classes requires teachers to be able to asses the level of special need in a learner ranging from mild, severe and profound. Then be able to plan what is worth for all. Tr. Of special needs Uganda.


Abundant old soul profile image

Abundant old soul 4 years ago from united states

I have been where you are. I know the system. Take heart. There are teachers who are saving lives. If you need some inspiration look at my hubs.


chulumanda Benson Mulenga - Zambia 4 years ago

Inclusion can just be a dream if necessary measures have not been put in place. inclusion requires careful planning in terms of both human and material resources. Rushing into inclusion despite its merits can disadvantage a child even more!


filimonawit sheferaw 3 years ago

oh its good note ==================================


Hendrina 3 years ago

both learners with and without special needs , they need to receive equal education therefore i am suggestion more teachers to be train in order to perform their duties, more teaching aid should be implemented in order to enhance learners learning.


okuro michael. 2 years ago

I think the Government must always give necessary support to these learners and teachers handling inclusive classes must be properly trained and well equipped with skills.


Sujbin 23 months ago

please would anyone like to ansanswer me the following question problems that we face while teaching child with special needs


tajunnisa teacher kendriya vidyalaya mysore India 22 months ago

information is quiet useful add some easy useful strategies to deal with children having auditory disabilities having hearing aid


jashon auko 11 months ago

I think the government should increase payment of these teachers


Kiconco Moses Ntegyereize--Uganda 9 months ago

Teachers need to be trained in order to acquire skills


Soubhagya padhan 7 months ago

Inclusion is necessary in a diversity. It is not only the right of the CWSN, but also the duty of the Government, as well as Non- Government Organisation to provide education to all. To teach in an inclusive classroom is a crucial task for the general education teacher , for that sincere qualified trained teachers are require. after training follow up service should be there. Never the less the suceess of inclusive Education is depend upon the attitude of the teachers, parents, peers of CWSN etc...

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