Given the debate on issues of inclusion, researchers have been interested in parents’ perceptions of inclusion. Palmer, Fuller, Arora, and Nelson (2001) surveyed parents of children with severe disabilities regarding their perceptions toward inclusion. They administered a 62-item survey to 140 parents of children with severe disabilities, including mental retardation, who were being served in traditional school settings. Part of the survey included a scenario describing a supportive inclusive environment that included key components of inclusive environments for students with severe disabilities. These components included:

  1. services delivered through collaboration of general and special educators,
  2. chronological age-appropriate placement, and (c) no students excluded from placements. For example, one of the statements in the scenario stated: “These students do not spend any time in a special education classroom with other students with disabilities. Instead, a special education teacher and other adults who work at the school help the teacher in the regular class make the materials and lessons more understandable and useful for students with severe disabilities” (p. 470). Parents were then asked to rate whether the program would be a good idea for most or all students and for their own child. Results were mixed, in that some parents of children with severe disabilities indicated that the model of full inclusion would be a good idea for students and for their own child while others did not. For example, statements supporting inclusion included: (a) higher expectations and academic, functional skill and social skill improvements; (b) home school placements;
  3. all students benefit; and (d) philosophical position.

Conversely, statements not supporting inclusion included:

  1. type and severity of disability;
  2. acceptance of child;
  3. negative influence on others in class;
  4. inappropriate curriculum;
  5. lack of appropriate services and personnel; and
  6. size and age of child.

The authors concluded that variability exists in parents’ attitudes toward inclusion, in that some favored full inclusion while others favored special class placements. They further acknowledged that these findings might not be the same for all parents of children with different disabilities, but that understanding parents’ viewpoints is an important consideration in the education of their children.