The first time I heard of training students with severe/profound disabilities in a standard GenEd class I was learning from Carol Ann Davis at the University of Washington. [http://depts.washington.edu/coe/programs/sped/profiles/davis.html]Now,Dr. Davis was not about just popping some kid in a GenEd class and then abandoning him/her with an aide. She wanted us to figure out what functional activity the student could either perform or learn while in that class. I remember being unable to imagine what she had in mind and asked if there was some school where I could go to observe such an approach. Frustrated, she said that she didn't know of any place that did it around here [that was 5 years ago]. But she pointed us to research that seemed to bear out the premise that it was an advantage to have kids with severe/profound disabilities in GenEd classes.
First of all, the most important benefit was one that was not expected. It ended up that when these kids needed to do things in the community...jobs, leisure activities...the parents of the kids in the GenEd classes were the most helpful. It ended up that parents try to help the kids that their kids know. So more kids were able to get jobs through the GenEd class inclusion due to CONNECTIONS than due to any skills they may pick-up. Now THAT'S interesting...and compelling.
A nice summary of other benefits are included in this short paper by Jennifer Katz & Pat Mirenda:
How Do I feel about this? I'll write in later blogs under the same title.