chapter  11
19 Pages

Students with severe and multiple disabilities

Robert has a severe intellectual disability resulting from a comparatively rare genetic disorder. He lives in a country town where there is a well-established special school that he could attend. The paediatrician who looks after Robert suggested to his parents that this school would offer an excellent programme that would recognise his needs and help Robert develop his limited skills to the full. The special school could also offer regular speech therapy which would help Robert in learning to talk. But Robert’s parents also belong to a parent support group which strongly advocates the integration of all students into their local school. Other members of the group encouraged them to enrol Robert in his neighbourhood school. The school is a large one, and the principal was reluctant to take him, feeling that even with the support of an aide Robert would be isolated by his inability to communicate with his peers and to participate in the mainstream curriculum. Robert, although mobile, is small for his age and has a visual impairment, and the principal was also concerned about the possibility of an accident in the school ground or that Robert might wander away from the school if not watched for the whole time. Robert also has epilepsy, and, although this is controlled, someone in the school would have to take responsibility for administering his medication. At times, he exhibits bizarre behaviour-rhythmic rocking movements and flapping his hand in front of his face. Robert is toilet-trained, but at times needs reminding if an accident is to be avoided.