In this PhD thesis we examine the view of children with special needs about the process of their own schooling. The main subjects of the research refer to evaluations and opinions of children with special needs and their parents about the procedure of guidance, about their learning help and additional expert help, as well as to evaluations and opinions of children with special needs, their parents and their mates about their social inclusion in their school class and their school. In the theoretical part we explicate the concept and theoretical foundations of inclusion and its implementation in school environment. Further we elucidate specific dilemmas in defining children with special needs, both in view of terminology as well as in the domains of diagnosing, labelling and guidance. We focus on social skills and social inclusion of children with special needs, on participation of children and their parents in the procedures of diagnosing, planning and implementing help, as well as on activities that stimulate the process of empowerment of children with special needs.
The main aims of this work were to investigate the position of children with special needs in the process of inclusive schooling, and to ascertain in what ways and how much children with special needs and their parents are involved in the procedures of diagnosing and planning expert help, as well as how they evaluate its effectiveness. The research also looked into social inclusion of children with special needs in their class and school environment. We took the sample of 249 children with special needs attending 5th to 9th grade at 20 primary schools in different Slovene regions; 225 parents of the children with special needs; and 6 mates of children with special needs. The data were gathered with the use of questionnaires formulated for the research, and a partly structured interview with the focus group of mates of children with special needs. In the process of gathering and analysing information and in accordance with the aim of the research and the research questions, quantitative research methods were primarily employed.
The overall results of the research show that children with special needs and their parents are largely included in the procedures of guidance, planning help and adaptations in schoolwork, although this is not a regular practice of all commissions for guidance and in all schools. Further, children with special needs are included in these procedures to a lesser degree than their parents. Children with special needs mainly believe that they are well integrated into their class environment, and their parents think in a similar way. However, differences in social inclusion are perceptible between different groups of children with special needs.
On the basis of findings of the research we can conclude that in Slovenia, we have to devote further attention to the development of inclusive culture in schools, that is to say, equal participation of children, parents, teachers and other experts in the search for efficient strategies of helping children with special needs and, along with it, all schoolchildren in general.