I wrote this blog two years ago. Keep in mind that I am not writing about any events that happened to me returning to work this week. Two years ago I wrote in my journal. I listed the comments that I heard about how parents truly felt about inclusion and co-teaching. I didn’t list them all. Honestly, some of the comments really hurt my feelings.
You may think I am an advocate for inclusion because I am a co-teacher. Or you may think it is because I have a daughter with special needs. I am an advocate for inclusion because I am a human being.
When I think about how my daughter was treated in school in Michigan it makes me physically sick. There wasn’t an attempt to include her. Not for lunch, related arts or in the general education setting. If she was included she sat at the back of the room not having social interaction with her peers. I had to do something.
People have made comments that they don’t want their “normal” child in an inclusion or co-teach classroom. Well, you are missing out on an opportunity to see diversity, friendships, empathy and miracles happen. Every child should have an opportunity to be a peer buddy or mentor a child with special needs. It is an amazing experience to see, children helping other children.
Don’t worry your child will be taught the curriculum and challenged. Teachers use differentiation because not everyone learns the same way.
I had someone tell me that they would protest if their child was placed in an inclusion setting. She said the teachers wouldn’t be able to teach her child because the special needs children would be a distraction and would require too much time from the teachers.
After a slight pause, I did remind her that she was speaking to an autism advocate that believes in the power of an inclusion setting. Her reply was, “I don’t mind if my child is in a room with Sydney. It’s the other kids I am talking about.” I had no response.
That is just as bad as when someone told me they didn’t want to live next door to black people. But they liked my family and wouldn’t mind if we were their neighbors. Again no response.
My decision to share this blog this week was because some families will find out that their child will be in a co-teach classroom. Before you call administration to protest. Take a moment. Think about how you would feel if parents were calling because they didn’t want their child in a classroom with your child.
If you say you believe in inclusion. Stand by your words. Your children are watching.