Pros and Cons of Self-Contained Classrooms for Learning Disabled

Question: My son is currently mainstreamed in a regular classroom. Next year, the school plans to put him in a self-contained classroom. I really like his being able to mix with children who are not in the special-education program this year. Can you please explain the advantages and disadvantages of putting him in a self-contained classroom? - Mom

Answer: A self-contained classroom is the instructional setting for special-education students who have substantial disabilities and for whom placement in a less-restrictive setting (the regular classroom) has not been appropriate. Some of the advantages for your son of being in a self-contained classroom next year are:

  1. The classroom will be structured to minimize distraction and increase individual attention.
  2. Your son will get to know one teacher and will not have to relate to other teachers and move to several different classrooms.
  3. His academic skills might improve because he will be in small groups or even be offered the opportunity for individual instruction.

The disadvantages of self-contained classrooms are:

  1. When a child is returned to a self-contained classroom, it is likely to be a permanent move.
  2. Other students in the classroom might set inappropriate examples for your son to follow.
  3. Your son will be segregated from the general-education students.

Since the move is not going to happen until next year, you should visit the self-contained classroom now to see how well your son will fit into the program. Then, you should address any concerns that you have with his teachers.