U-turn on inclusion

14th January 2000 at 00:00
I WAS interested to read the report "Special needs bar to go" (TESS, January 7) of Sam Galbraith's forthright commitment to the principle of inclusion. Can this be the same Mr Galbraith who, in an article in 1995 argued that there was not, as yet, any overwhelming body of objective knowledge to support the policy of inclusion, at least as it applied to adults with special needs?

In his opinion a position had been reached where a good idea had been taken over by administrative and financial imperatives. In my opinion, the same argument can be made with respect to the policy of inclusion as it applies to children with special needs.

In his refreshingly frank and outspoken article, Mr Galbraith challenged the principles underpinning the policy of community care and questioned whether community care was the best form of treatment for all those receiving it, now or in the future He contended that while it might be right for the majority, it was inappropriate for a large minority.

What was needed for this minority was an enclosed environment suited to the needs of the individual and not some theoretical model of community care. By continuing to place adults with special needs in the open community, Mr Galbraith believed that we would be placing them in "community prisons" .

I wonder if Mr Galbraith is prepared to share with us the compelling evidence that has led him to change his views.

It is worth observing that the views expressed by Mr Galbraith in 1995 have rather more in common with the position taken by the present Department of Health in England, where a heavy emphasis is being placed on real and not rhetorical choice for service users and their parents.

Robin Jackson

Deeview Gardens



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