In honour of Inclusive Education Month, Community Living Ontario shared a story from a small Ontario town. The writer’s 10-year-old daughter has been the classmate of a child with special needs since kindergarten. When asked about the importance of inclusion, her daughter said, “Inclusion is something you shouldn’t have to think about; it should just happen.” Smart kid.
Until the end of Grade 8, Talia was fully included in mainstream classes. Here are some snapshots of what inclusion has meant to her: Writing and delivering speeches, awesome scores on spelling tests, performing African drumming with classmates on stage, attending sleepover parties, travelling to Quebec City for a week-long trip, working on projects at a classmate’s house — the list goes on.
At the high school level, Talia is still continuing to learn. And she loves school and her teachers. But the options for inclusion at a highly academic public school are limited. In Grade 10, she was enrolled in an innovative program called CELP (Community Environmental Leadership Program). Highlights included a one week canoe trip, visting a water treatment plant and collecting fresh eggs from a chicken coop! Now, Tal’s in a self-contained class with some integration. Once weekly, she goes to a lunchtime Global Outreach (social justice) club. She sometimes attends classes, such as personal fitness or cooking.
Fortunately, high school does give Tal some amazing opportunities for inclusion in the community. With a job coach, Tal’s had work placements at restaurants, a childcare centre, senior centre, office, a hotel and even at a university animal research facility.
I’d love to hear about your kids’ school situation. Are you home-schooling them? Are your kids in a mainstream classroom or self-contained classroom? Do they have support? Is this working for your child?
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