What Are the Differences Among Mainstreaming, Integration and Inclusion?

The difference between integration and inclusion is that integration refers to the process of educating children with special needs in mainstream classrooms, while inclusion involves a much deeper level of participation for students with disabilities in normal learning activities, according to ICEVI-Europe.org. Integration requires the disabled learner to fit into mainstream classes, while inclusion seeks to adapt the mainstream class to accommodate the needs of the disabled learner.

The main difference between mainstreaming and inclusion is that mainstreaming requires a student to gain academic knowledge from mainstream classes, while inclusion only requires a student to show that he or she is not losing out from being in an inclusion class. Within a mainstreamed classroom, the disabled learner is required to keep up with most of what is being taught, while in an inclusion class, the same learner is allowed to learn just a minimum of the content being taught. Another difference between mainstreaming and inclusion is that a child in a mainstreamed class usually has little support from the school apart from the regular teacher, while in an inclusion class, the child is usually assisted by staff members specially trained to help the student adjust to the classroom and give individual support to the student with special needs.