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.
Down Syndrome Advocates in Action Nebraska, is a group for parents run by parents.