It is recognized that diversity can be defined from multiple points including diversity in perceived abilities and disabilities or rather exceptionalities. Exceptional individuals or those with special needs generally refers to individuals who differ from the societal or community standard of normalcy. As defined in the literature, they fall in the categories of individuals who have shown marked difference from the average or normal individual, in some identified aspects such as intellectual differences, communication differences, sensory differences, behavioural differences, physical differences, and multiple and severe handicapping conditions. There is an increasing awareness and the broadening of perspective that mainstreaming is not just about including individuals with differing background and with exceptionalities. It emphasizes on having self-empowerment, self-determination and equality. In relation to this, a case study was carried out in Malaysia examining how a variety of individuals construct their definitions of exceptionality. Data were gathered via in-depth interviews conducted on individuals with and without special needs, aged 17 to 20 years. The analysis of data identified the following themes; the interpretation of exceptionality; being exceptional or being a person with special needs is not about possessing a label, and the realities of mainstreaming. Supportive and suppressive factors were highlighted to further understand such conceptualization.
|Keywords:||Exceptional, Special Needs, Differences|
Senior Lecturer, Department of Foundation of Education, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Lecturer, Faculty of Education, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
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