AMANDA IS 13, not toilet-trained, doesn't speak, has multiple seizures daily and virtually no academic skills. The only and all-day place for her to learn is a regular seventh-grade class.

We want no options for Amanda - or for the millions of students with severe behavior or learning problems, or other disabilities - other than sitting side by side with same-age peers in a neighborhood school.Full-inclusion proponents would have us believe this very simple and pure picture of the world of special education.

Full inclusion is the educational bandwagon and buzzword of the '90s, gleefully denying students with disabilities access to ANY setting other than the typical class, counter to the intent and mandate of federal law.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act clearly requires a RANGE of placement options (from residential school to regular classroom) for children and that families help decide where their children will go to school.

"Least restrictive environment" is the one that best serves the individual child, allowing that kids come in all flavors and not every student will flourish in the same situation.

Full-inclusion zealots insist on eliminating these options, claiming that whatever special services are needed must always be in the regular classroom. Any time spent away from the regular classroom is unacceptable, discriminatory and a denial of human rights.

To these advocates, theoretical purity is more important than the needs of kids. The regular classroom is the best option if that is where a particular child needs to be. OK - even the child with severe disabilities may get something out of simply being in a classroom with typical peers, but is that balanced by what's lost, for example, teaching basic academic or functional life skills?

What about self-esteem? Friends? Research consistently shows that kids with varying disabilities continue to be rejected by peers in regular classrooms.

At the risk of being politically incorrect, let's also consider the needs of these 25 to 35 peers. Should we ignore the potentially lost instructional time or the disruptive impact of behavioral outbursts?

The Academy Award winning documentary, "Educating Peter" (1992), showed that Peter, a student with Down syndrome, and his classmates gained from his participation in an inclusive program.

Produced from a full-inclusion perspective, what it did not show was the level of support required to make it succeed - intensive training for teacher, classmates and parents, full-time aide for just Peter in addition to an inclusion specialist available daily in a regular class of about 16.

All too often kids are just dumped without this type of expensive support into classrooms of already overburdened teachers in the holy name of full inclusion.

We absolutely favor inclusion - but responsible inclusion that allows appropriate options for children and their families. We commend the efforts of schools nationwide that are committed to helping all students in regular classrooms. But, we fear for the rights of those children whose true least restrictive environment might be, for example, a daily visit to a special resource room.

We cannot justify the exclusion of choices for kids. While many children will succeed in regular classes with assistance, we must accept the fact that we are not all the same, and as different people, may do our best in different environments.