How can we include children with a disability in the general education classroom?
Now that we know what inclusion is and how all students benefit from learning in an inclusive environment, let's talk about some ways to do it well.
We need to talk about this because, sadly many schools think they do inclusion when they put a child in a general education classroom, but do not provide access and supports to allow the child to access the general education curriculum. To be very clear, this is not inclusion.
Peer support is one of the most valuable supports in the general education classroom. To be a good peer model the first thing to do is to allow your peers the opportunity to try and it is OK if they fail. Don't give support unless they ask, or you offer and they accept your offer to help. Be a good friend, find out what they like and aske them about it. Or just hang out with them.
On the side of the school, supports are often modification to general education curriculum, so that the student can access the material, and providing accommodations - changes to how the child learns and demonstrates their understanding of the material.
#dsam21 #dsaane #downsyndrome #dsadvocates
Will having a child with a disability in my typical child's classroom negatively impact their learning?
This is a valid question, asked by parents who likely never experienced inclusion in their own school careers even though IDEA was passed over 45 years ago. Well, here is what you need to know: the evidence based research that has been done since the passage of IDEA shows that in inclusive environment benefits ALL students. When a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model is used, the extra supports for put in place for those with significant disabilities actually help typical students who might struggle. High ability learners also can provide peer model support and gain a higher level of mastery, by helping to teach struggling students. Many schools are going to a co-teaching model where special ed teachers pair with general ed teachers to make sure learners at all levels are supported.
Why are we making this October about acceptance and inclusion? Because it benefits EVERYONE!
#dsam21 #dsaane #dsadvocate #downsyndrome
What Is Inclusion?
First let's talk about what inclusion is. Here is the definition we found online.
Inclusion- the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.
But to take that farther, Inclusion is a mindset, not a place. The mindset that everyone has value. It is recognizing the value in each person feeling like they belong. It is presuming competence, that each child can learn, even if they can't show that learning the way their typical peers do. It is about making the least dangerous assumptions instead of making the assumption that a child can't keep up. (FYI, They don't have to).
It is also a civil right. Segregating is never equal. Federal laws were passed over 45 years ago that require students with disabilities be educated with their typically developing peers with accommodations and modifications to help them access the curriculum.
Yet so many schools in our state convince parents that their child will learn more and get more support in a Segregated learning environment. As early as kindergarten, children are funneled into the segregated environments, and are never even given the chance to try a general education classroom, with supports. Parents who fight the system and hold their ground can often get schools to follow the law, but it takes a lot of advocacy. Sutudies show that kids who are included have a much smaller learning gap, than those who are segregated. So why is it still being done?
Down syndrome Acceptance and Inclusion month is about knocking down the systematic limitations our families face every day. Parent's should not have to spend so much time and efforts to get schools to follow the law. When you see injustice, segregation, inequality, please speak up.
Every child benefits from learning in an inclusive environment.
We work hard in our community to educate and shout the value of individuals with Down syndrome all year long. This month we invite the general public to join in our celebration. Get to know a person with Down syndrome. I bet they might just surprise you.
Down Syndrome Advocates in Action Nebraska, is a group for parents run by parents.