Inclusion of students with special educational needs: a descriptive study based on students’ reports

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SÁ, Ruth Nely Alves de [1], SALAZAR, Leopoldo Briones [2]

SÁ, Ruth Nely Alves de. SALAZAR, Leopoldo Briones. Inclusion of students with special educational needs: a descriptive study based on students’ reports. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 11, Vol. 01, pp. 153-167. November 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


This article aims to describe the reality of the inclusion of students with special educational needs from an interview with three students from the sixth to ninth grade of elementary school, enrolled in the Municipal School Elzinha Lizardo Nunes in Alto Taquari in the state of Mato Grosso. The problem that fosters this study was based on the perception that there are few initiatives to give voice to students with special educational needs throughout Basic Education. Thus, an interview was elaborated with six open questions analyzed from the direct observation of the collected contents. The application took place in two stages, the first with the awareness of those responsible for the minors involved and the second with the collection of information together with these students. It was observed, with the analysis of the data that there is still much to be done in the inclusion process regarding the work developed by the school, as well as the family’s performance in this process of support and follow-up. With this work, it is expected that the largest students are interested in the success of the inclusive process of students with special educational needs: the students themselves.

Keywords: Inclusion, special educational needs, Basic Education.


Several cases of non-school learning cause distress in members of the school community. Most do not know how to effectively help or solve such problems, which sometimes allows the search for a deeper study regarding learning difficulties. In schools, for the most part, children with learning problems are interpreted as distracted, inattentive and/or lazy children. They are very concerned about the inclusion of the physically handicapped and sometimes forget children who have learning disabilities or disorders, such as: central auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, dyslalia, dysgraphia, ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), among others; thus justifying these learning disorders or difficulties as alterations in reading, writing and non-interpretation of texts. Such children, in turn, are not included as they should, they mask this inclusion by assigning a fictitious note only not to teach such students differently, as this will certainly be more work than teaching everyone in the same way.

The relevance of this work is to describe the reality of the inclusion of students with special educational needs from an interview with three students from the sixth to ninth grade of elementary school, enrolled in the Municipal School Elzinha Lizardo Nunes in Alto Taquari in the state of Mato Grosso.

Thus, the detailed investigation of these children, followed by adequate treatment and a better adequacy in the classroom of the contents to be seized, may radically change their school life as well as their development and even their affective life due to the increase of their self-esteem with the good results of their studies. Most often, these students have no disorder, difficulties or any other special need; what occurs, in many cases, is a rupture or pedagogical fracture in the process of its literacy.

It is currently worth considering that pathological states refer mainly to learning disorders, in which, according to Collares and Moysés (1992), there is a problem or disease that affects the student at an individual and organic level. Pedagogical fractures, according to Fernández (1991), are learning difficulties, “the result of the cancellation of abilities and the blocking of an individual’s learning possibilities”.

This work has as main focus to listen to this public, considering that there are few initiatives to give voice to students with special educational needs throughout Basic Education. The inclusion laws mostly treat the disabled, do not make clear what are the rights of students who do not have a physical disability, but who also cannot learn like other colleagues.

These students have long supported themselves in the Laws for the Inclusion of The Disabled. Therefore, discussions on the subject should be broadened, thus increasing scientific data on this subject. In view of the results of these data generated by research and discussions about the non-learning of such students, to charge those entitled, specific laws that guarantee their rights. Therefore, this work will be aimed at the inclusion of students with special educational needs focusing on students with learning difficulties.

In this sense, it is believed in the perspective of a society focused on human diversity, understanding the dynamics of development of each subject, knowing and respecting the peculiarities of its functioning in learning. For this, it is necessary to review the concepts in relation to diversity in the classroom, avoiding labeling and discriminating, avoiding judging students with special educational needs as incapable.


There are many ways of understanding disability, some ancient, involved by myths and beliefs and others more current, centered on scientific research. For Jannuzzi (1992), the conception and its attribution are the complete responsibility of society, so also the exclusion of the different, in which their behavior runs away from the expected. In this way, they are designated abnormals, people who, in a way, bother the order put.

Generally, the so-called special classes have been occupied by children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, thus attesting much more to the cultural difference or even often difficulties arising from the school’s own inefficiency (JANNUZZI, 1992, p. 21).

Different from the fatalistic definition which, according to Tunes (2002), by the so-called visions of naturalists of divine and naturalistic character characterized by the organic origin of disability – arises to the eusemic conception, accepting the possible development of the individual with special needs. The term disability comes from the Greek language and corresponds to favorable occurrences in a disease, which is a definition that is branched out into a social and historical-cultural view. Dictionaries generally define the term as malfunction or absence of functioning of an organ; lack of quality or quantity; lack, gap or lack of something needed (HOUSSAIS, 2001).

Also, according to Tunes (2002), from the perspective of the social view, the label of disabled is attributed by society and a relational medium, so the conceptualization is characterized by the role or social status acquired. There is also the pejorative use of the term with the sense of defect that a thing has or loss that experiences in its quantity, quality or value. Therefore, people are seen as carrying limitations in the performance of culturally valued and demanded activities. Therefore, the individual with special needs is labeled as incapable due to sociocultural and non-biological conceptions. The author also asserts that

[…] such a defect does not necessarily imply the development of a disability. Although it appears to be a difficulty or a barrier to the development process common to most people, it is not insurmountable or inescapable (TUNES, 2002, p. 11)

Following the social view of disability, Omote (1994) states that, on this socially imposed situation,

[…] deficiencies are not, from a psychological point of view, individual differences whatsoins. Those that necessarily have some meanings of disadvantage and social discredit. Therefore, differences are determined to which certain meanings of disadvantage have been attributed and which lead to their carriers being discredited (OMOTE, 1994 p. 66).

To better visualize this definition, it is enough to observe the social view in the definition of disability presented by the World Health Organization, a specialized health agency subordinated to the United Nations to which assigns the term for any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity considered normal for humans (SASSAKI, 1997). According to the same organization, with data from 2011, about one billion people live with some disability. Such a picture means one in seven people in the world need some specific kind of care. The lack of statistics on people with disabilities contributes to the invisibility of these people, representing an obstacle to planning and implementing development policies that improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Vygotsky (1983) points out that strictly archethretic conception is a typical trait of ancient and outdated defectology. For him, the defective being does not constitute directly a disabled person, this will depend on the social environment. Thus, the same problem causes different social impacts, depending on the moment and the way it is interpreted, believed and overcome.

The effect of deficit/defect on the child’s personality and psychological constitution is secondary because children do not directly feel their handicap state. The primary causes, its so-called special form of development are the limited restrictions placed on the child by society. It is the sociopsychological realization of the possibilities of the child that decides the destiny of personality, not the deficit itself (VYGOTSKY, 1983, p. 25).

In line with the line adopted by Vygotsky (1983), in which the limitation is determined by the members of the community in which the individual with special needs lives, Amaral (1994), according to the World Health Organization, between disability into two types: primary and secondary disability.

Primary disability is characterized by damage or abnormality of elementary structure or function, while secondary disability turns culturally to the concept of disability, would characterize a condition of disadvantage, possible only in a comparative context, confronting that person to his group. For Amaral (1994), even though they are adopted as irreversible, the limitations on primary disability are not in themselves an absolute impediment to development. The progress to be presented by children with special needs depends on the possibilities offered by the environment and its experiences.

Mazzotta (1998) adds that the individual with special needs is characterized by intrinsic and extrinsic elements and limitations, which requires changes and adaptations of the environment to reach its maximum capacity.

According to the author (1982, p. 43),

social integration presupposes the establishment of social relations between the exceptional and the other students. […] It involves interaction, through communication, assimilation, through the active and recognized participation of the exceptional as an element of the group of “normal” children and acceptance, reflected in the approval of the exceptional child as a participant and accepted in the group, through regular and spontaneous relationships that make the exceptional feel natural part of the group (MAZZOTTA, 1982, p. 43).

Fonseca (1995) reports that, if on the one hand there is disability, on the other hand, there are educational needs and potentialities to be stimulated so that there is the conquest of a better way of living.

It seems clear that learning difficulties are not seen in an interactionist and dialectical model. On the one hand, the advocates who see the learning difficulties in the child and their information processing deficits. On the other, the defenders who see the difficulties in the teacher and in his work processes. Dyslexia or dyspedagogy? Problem of the child(s) or adult problem(s)? Learning difficulties or teaching difficulties? The lack of an integrated perspective, the delimitation of content areas and interdisciplinary divorce among professionals, make a global dimension of learning difficulties lose sight of (FONSECA, 1995, pp. 75-76).

Generically, according to Tunes (2002), disability can understand collective communication, collaboration and social relations experienced with the other. A new vision of disability can be presented, in which the fatalistic character that implies divine, supernatural, organic and hereditary causes is left aside and a contextualized vision with the social environment comes into force.

Thus, Vygotsky (1983), Amaral (1994), Omote (1994), Mazzotta (1998), Fonseca (1995) and Tunes (2002) have already mentioned humanize the approach to disability. These authors present the individual with special needs as a human being, citizens, worthy of the same rights as others, but who need to deal with the obstacles imposed by society. Thus, a different view is accepted, enabling disability to cease to be a myth and to be a reality that has to be worked and lived.

The feeling of inferiority of those with special needs is the result of the conditioning of human relations. No difference is in itself advantageous or not, it is the expectations of the social environment that will determine it. The rejection or acceptance of the different is that it has the power to institute whether or not this is inappropriate, negative, undesirable and especially a barrier impossible to overcome and overcome. Thus, based on ideas and concepts historically created, it is found that the lack of commitment to people with special needs was the aspect that determined stagnation in a differentiated class, despised and devalued by those considered “normal”.

Thus, the prejudice of disability is created, preventing or hindering an egalitarian relationship, recognizing the other as a human being. Unlike this, there is the label, the classification as incapable.


In the current model of inclusion, several concepts are revised taking other directions, since no more practices can be supported that ignore the specific needs of those individuals who aspire to the fullness of their rights. It is noteworthy that such fullness was not achieved by individuals without disabilities, but that those with disabilities can at least reach the same level of accessibility to information and knowledge vehicles.

According to Sassaki (1997, p 2):

A common school only becomes inclusive after it has been restructured to meet the diversity of the new student in terms of special needs (not only those resulting from physical, mental, visual, auditory or multiple disabilities, but also those resulting from other atypical conditions), in terms of students’ learning styles and abilities and all other requirements of the principle of inclusion , as set out in the document, ‘The Salamanca Declaration and the Action Plan for Special Needs Education (SASSAKI, 1997, p. 2).

Now these people are considered to have special educational needs, since, according to the Salamanca Declaration (1994) governments, in general, should promote actions that

[…] encourage and facilitate the participation of parents, communities and organizations of people with disabilities in planning and decision-making processes regarding the provision of services for special educational needs (DECLARAÇÃO DE SALAMANCA p. 3).

The Salamanca definition states that regular schools with inclusive guidance are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, forming welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all. Although it does not yield to the complexity of special education in its contradictions and social implications, it is understood that the laws are the result of all these implications and contradictions, which after being discussed are elaborated in order to ensure that the problems are minimally mitigated. The passage below brings out what is most important in the Salamanca Declaration on the relevance of effectively including those with special needs in society at large.

A change of social perspective is imperative. For too long the problems of people with disabilities have been composed of a society that is inabilita, which has paid more attention to impediments than to the potential of such people (DECLARAÇÃO DE SALAMANCA, 1994).

Thus, when one thinks of an inclusive society one has the idea that all people have the same conditions and opportunities to experientize all situations, making their participation a participatory and active environment, where it is understood that individual relationships are established in the light of an equality of values.


The term Special Educational Needs – SEN is applied to all those children, young people or adults whose special educational needs originate due to disabilities or learning difficulties. According to Borges (2005),

[…] a student has special educational needs when he/she has difficulties greater than the rest of the students of his/her age to learn what is being predicted in the curriculum, thus needing alternative ways to achieve this learning (BORGES, 2005, p. 03).

The concept of Special Educational Needs (SEN) was adopted and revised after the Salamanca Declaration (1994), covering all children and young people whose needs involve disabilities or learning difficulties.

Mazzotta (1996) alerts the professionals involved and the general population

[…] for the linguistic inadequacy of the expression “people with special educational needs, suggesting that, instead of it, we use “students with special educational needs”, which is undoubtedly more appropriate, either from the semantic or psychological point of view (MAZZOTTA, 1996, p. 60).

Thus, it began to cover both disadvantaged children and so-called over-the-sick children, as well as street children or at-risk, who work, from remote or nomadic populations, belonging to ethnic or cultural minorities and disadvantaged or marginal children, as well as those with problems of conduct or emotional order. Another difference, at least very disturbing, was the insertion of the expression Special Education which was not included in the original version of the Salamanca Declaration. In the 1994 translation, the following essay is found:

This Line of Action on Special Educational Needs was approved by the World Conference on Special Educational Needs […]. Its objective is to define the policy and inspire the actions of governments, international and national aid organizations, non-governmental organizations and other organizations in the application of the Salamanca Declaration, principles, policy and practice for special educational needs (DECLARAÇÃO DE SALAMANCA, 1994).

Following Brazilian legislation, according to Resolution No. 2 of September 11, 2001, which establishes the National Guidelines for Special Education in Basic Education (BRASIL, 2001), the service to this public should be performed in a personalized way, following the principles present in the Salamanca Declaration (1994).

Art. 6º For the identification of the students’ special educational needs and the decision-making regarding the necessary care, the school must carry out, with technical advice, evaluation of the student in the teaching and learning process, counting, to this end, with:

I – the experience of its faculty, its directors, coordinators, advisors and educational supervisors;

II – the sector responsible for the special education of the respective system;

III – the collaboration of the family and the cooperation of the health, social assistance, labor, justice and sports services, as well as the Public Prosecutor’s Office, when necessary (BRASIL, 2001, p.70).

 Thus, the documents that aim at and regulate the inclusion of students include them and at the same time exclude them, because the simple fact of separating the rights of a specific group of students makes it possible to create independent and, at the same time, exclude dwell mechanisms. Many of the students with special educational needs, included/listed in the Salamanca Declaration, were not covered by special education policies, i.e., they were included at first and subsequently excluded.


From this point, the statements of the students selected to participate in the interviews will be analyzed. It is important to remember that three students from the sixth to ninth grade of elementary school were interviewed, representing all those with special educational needs enrolled in the Elzinha Lizardo Nunes Municipal School.

The questions focused on understanding how the students behaved in the face of learning difficulties, teacher commitment, teaching assistance, respect, activities and barriers in the process.

The first question to be answered more analytically by the students was about learning difficulties, seeking to understand how these individuals govern in the teaching process. The question was formulated as follows: Do you think you have difficulty learning? The following table brings the

responses obtained after the application of the interview to the students.

 Table one. Learning difficulties

Student I “Yes, in mathematics.”
Student II “Yes a little yes, in Portuguese and geography.”
Student III “I do have it mostly in math class.”

Source: Prepared for this investigation.

All interviewees state that they have difficulty learning. This perception is the first step towards their progress in the teaching-learning process, considering that denying that the problem exists does not make it disappear.

Students with learning disabilities cannot and should not be compared to other students. Therefore, it is up to the school to list, within its content, those skills that the student with learning difficulties is able to develop.

The second question to be answered by the students questioned the teacher’s commitment, seeking to understand how these individuals perceive the teacher’s performance. The question was formulated as follows: Are teachers committed to teaching and care about their learning? The following table provides the answers obtained after the application of the interview to the students.

Table two. Teacher commitment

Student I I said, “Yes.”
Student II “Yes, some others not so much.”
Student III “They worry they teach me only that at the time it passes a little I forget.”

Source: Prepared for this investigation.

The students report that teachers really engage in the task of educating, but highlight the presence of difficulties. Student 3 states that “They care they teach me only that at the time that passes a little I forget”, revealing the little effectiveness of the teaching process carried out in school.

It is also of paramount importance to remind the family of the role in overcoming learning difficulties, since the teacher and the school are co-responsible for such overcoming. Therefore, without family support, success becomes difficult for students with special educational needs or learning disabilities.

The third question to be answered in a more detailed way by the students focused on the teaching aid, seeking to understand how these individuals perceive the teacher’s support. The question was formulated as follows: Do your teachers circulate in the classroom, do they assist students in activities individually? The following table provides the answers obtained after the application of the interview to the students.

Table three. Teaching aid

Student I “Yes”
Student II “No, all of them not some.”
Student III “They circulate yes.”

Source: Prepared for this investigation.

Only Student 2 answered that there are teachers who do not assist in the activities taught, which is a possible indication of the prejudice resulting from hierarchy. The other selected ones report that they are assisted and that the teachers circulate in the room.

The fourth question to be answered more analytically by the students was about respect, seeking to understand how these individuals perceive this situation in school. The question was formulated as follows: Do you feel respected by colleagues, teachers, coordinators and principals? How do they treat you? Do you notice any kind of prejudice against you about your difficulty learning?

The following table provides the answers obtained after the application of the interview to the students.

Table 15. Respect

Student I “Yes, they treat me well.”
Student II “There are some who curse me at school, only colleagues and teachers treat me well.”
Student III “When I sit in the classroom they go into me asks what I’m feeling, but I’m very well treated with teachers, principals everyone at school. Colleagues treat me very well.”

Source: Prepared for this investigation.

Student 2 reports that “There are some who curse me there at school, only the teachers treat me well”, this being an indication that the school needs to develop a work that values respect for students with special educational needs or learning difficulties.

The fifth question to be answered more analytically by the students was about performing activities, seeking to understand how these individuals perceive themselves with the difficulty of learning. The question was asked as follows: How do you feel when you can’t develop an activity as easily as your colleagues develop? Do you do anything to change that?

The following table provides the answers obtained after the application of the interview to the students.

Table 16. Carrying out activities

Student I “I’m in my quiet corner.”
Student II “Very sad, no.”
Student III “I ask the teacher for help when I’m having trouble learning that task at the same time as they do. Teachers help me.

Source: Prepared for this investigation.

Only Student 3 reports that “I ask the teacher for help when I am having difficulty learning that task at the same time as they do. Teachers help me yes” demonstrates some proactivity in the face of the situation. The rest claim that “I stay there in my quiet corner” or “Very sad, no”, making it clear that they do nothing to change this situation. Group work or activities involving cooperation can help in the insertion and proactivity of these students.

The sixth question to be answered more analytically by the students dealt with the barriers in the process, seeking to understand how these individuals perceive themselves with the difficulty of learning. The question was formulated as follows: For you what are the barriers that prevent the inclusion of students with learning disabilities from happening within the school environment?

The following table provides the answers obtained after the application of the interview to the students.

Table 17. Barriers in the process

Student I I said, “I don’t know.”
Student II “I don’t know no.”
Student III “I see difficulty when the teacher asks for attention and they do not pay attention there I ask them to shut up so they can learn what the teacher is wanting to teach at that moment.”

Source: Prepared for this investigation.

Only Student 3 can answer the proposed question by stating that he sees “… difficulty when the teacher asks for attention and they do not pay attention there I ask them to shut up so they can learn what the teacher is wanting to teach at that moment.” This portrays the reality of a work that needs improvements and planning of activities.


Thus, it was possible to bring up the reality of students with special educational needs at the Elzinha Lizardo Nunes Municipal School in Alto Taquari in the state of Mato Grosso in order to provide an overview of the reality of these students in Basic Education. Furthermore, it is expected that the rulers will direct efforts to better serve this public, since the inclusion of all is interesting for all members of society.

Thus, a challenging goal for Brazilian education is the construction of a school that can serve everyone with its singularities. Unfortunately, most schools and education professionals are not prepared to deal with differences in the learning teaching process. Through inclusion, it is believed that those who for a long time have been on the margins of academic conviviality may have their space and adequate attention directed to themselves. Thus, it is suggested that teachers update their pedagogical practices.

Therefore, it was very valid, in the present study, the realization of an empirical research that, developed from a data collection, allowed a real understanding of learning difficulties in school, as well as the deficiency of specialized professionals to collaborate with the work of teachers.


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[1] Master in Educational Sciences, Specialist in Portuguese Language, Literature and Psychopedagogy.

[2] Advisor.

Submitted: September, 2020.

Approved: November, 2020.

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