Myth #1: Inclusion is easy.
Fact: Inclusion requires effort from all involved parties, and even then, it’s not a guaranteed success. Some of the steps you can take to make sure your child is included are:
- Scouting out welcoming venues and making sure the sensory environment is appropriate.
- Carrying a sensory toolkit to reduce anxiety in certain situations.
- Identifying the times when extra assistance or patience are needed, and explaining your child’s needs to others.
- Walking your student through his/her school schedule in an empty school the week before school starts.
- Introducing your child to his teachers and helping him create an introductory portfolio.
- Rehearsing situations and teaching etiquette proactively.
Myth #2: Inclusion means that everyone is happy and we all get along great!
Fact: Inclusion is full of surprises, and not all of those surprises are pleasant. Sometimes it may even seem like it creates more problems than it solves – but we can learn from past mistakes and create a better outcome on the next try. You must be flexible, ready to change plans as my family’s needs change. Over time, these “failures” serve to increase trust between friends and family, which leads to a greater willingness to get up and give it another go.
Myth #3: Some people are not candidates for inclusion due to the nature of their disabilities.
Fact: If you are breathing, you are a candidate for inclusion.
If you have been told that inclusion is not an option at this time, consider bringing an advocate to your next IEP or even hiring an attorney. There are creative ways to make inclusion work, such as acclimating a person to a new environment and gradually increasing the length of time spent in that situation. Another way is to identify a person’s interests and building and inclusive environment around those interests and strengths.
Myth #4: Inclusion only benefits people with disabilities.
Fact: Inclusion helps everyone become a contributing member of a community. When people see another person receiving necessary support to participate, it is reassuring to realize that they will also receive support when needed. Teachers report that the overall classroom climate becomes more respectful and productive when students with disabilities are included. Inclusion introduces life lessons that are not in any textbook, it encourages personal excellence and it fosters interdependence as each person makes valuable contributions. Research has consistently demonstrated a higher achievement level for students without disabilities in a diverse, inclusive classroom.
Myth #5: Inclusion is just another fad – give it time, and it will pass.
Fact: It looks like inclusion is here to stay for several reasons:
- Inclusion is more cost-effective than segregated classrooms and leads to higher achievement for all students.
- About 40 decades worth of federal legislation requires that students be placed in the “Least Restrictive Environment” (LRE) and guarantees a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), which in many cases means full or partial inclusion at school.
- At the international level, inclusion is now considered a universal human right.
- Most of human history was inclusive for all members of a community – the concept of segregating people with disabilities was a relatively recent “fad” that thankfully did pass!
This blog post is from the Friendship Circle Blog. Visit the Friendship Circle Blog