Every one knows the phrase, but so very many educators don't understand. My son attends RISE Learning Center in Indianapolis. It's considered one of these environments. However, let me tell you why it's least restrictive for him.
Darrel couldn't be given the time and attention in a gen ed setting or even a simple special ed. classroom to learn simple things like walking in the line or not hitting others to get attention. His understanding and his behavior would cause him to be ostracized socially and under-educated in a less restrictive environment.
D can't sit down for very long, and it's not just behavior. He CAN'T sit down for long periods of time. It is painful, uncomfortable, distressing. Regular academic environments have the restriction that you must. It must be done this way, and that makes them too restrictive for Darrel. This is the reason a more restrictive environment belongs on the continuum of services for special education students.
It shocks me everyday to meet professionals in education who are against these environments touting inclusion, inclusion, inclusion like it's the magic cure. We have numbers that inclusion has good side effects, but my question is; Has anyone actually looked at its effects in terms of effectiveness compared with intensive, comprehensive service environments like RLC? I doubt it. The severe end of the autism spectrum interferes with our preconceived notions. My hope is to see education truly individualized as we profess to want it. Inclusion isn't right for every child, or it may not be right for right now. With intensive work on behavior and symptoms of the spectrum, a child who would never be included like Darrel or who would never learn if included, might have a hope of inclusion in the future.