There are a number of ‘models’ of disability which have been defined over the last few years. The two most frequently mentioned are the ‘social’ and the ‘medical’ models of disability. The social and medical model of disability (2007) www2.le.ac.uk [accessed 02/03/12] The medical model of disability sees the disabled person as the problem. It is not seen as an issue to concern anyone other than the individual affected. For example if a child couldn’t get into the setting the medical model would say that it was the wheelchair could not get into the building rather than the settings itself. In contrast the social model of disability would see the steps as a problem. The social model of disability draws on the idea that it is society that disables people. They see as everything been designed to fit the needs of the majority of people who are not disabled. The social model tries to reduce the disabling barriers and take it as the responsibility of the society for doing this rather than blaming it on the disabled person. A medical model approach could be a practitioner who refuses to produce a hand out in a larger font for a visually impaired student. This could then affect the child by not being able to participate in the class discussion and could lose self-confidence. A medical model approach could also be a member of staff who refuses to make an available PowerPoint presentation copy for the learning needs of dyslexic students who struggle to keep up and struggle to understand key points. Also classrooms which aren’t accessible for wheelchair students because the doors are too narrow. A social model is more inclusive in approach. They believe adjustments can be made even if money and time is involved. A practitioner who is in the social model will meet visually impaired students by adapting hand-outs so the student can read them or adapts activities to suit to every child’s need for example in my setting a child has cystic fibrosis and we did an activity were the children had to gather round a table and watch an experiment. The SEN Child finds it hard to stand up for a long period of time therefore I made sure he could sit down so he could watch the experiment instead of not joining in. Many people are willing to adopt the social model and to make adjustments for students who have a visible disability. However, they are not as accommodating with students who have a hidden disability, or a disability that is not clearly understood. An important principle of the social model is that the individual should be respected, regardless of whether the disability is obvious or not. ‘People with disabilities have taken the social model a stage further and defined disability as a social creation’ Nelson Thornes Childcare and Education (2008) Social Model page 359 [accessed 02/03/2012] A social creation is a problem created by the institutions and organisations in the processes that make up the society. Thus model of disability has led people with disabilities to campaign for their rights for social change.
There are many legal requirements that support the actions to be taken when it is considered a child may have special needs .Legislation concerning the care and education of children with disabilities is regularly changed and updated. The Education Act 1994 was the first piece of legislation to describe and define special education needs and provision. Doctors were the centre to the progress and children were assessed as having one of 11 ‘disorders’ before being placed in a specialist school. Children with severe learning difficulties were not thought to be able to benefit from education and were looked after in training centres by local authorities. The Education Reform Act 1988 requires all maintained schools, including special schools, to provide the National Curriculum.’ Nelson Thornes Childcare and Education (2008) Education Reform Act 1988 page 370 [accessed 06/03/2012] The act basically says that even if...