When I was a kid in elementary school, all of my differently-abled peers attended a separate class that was titled “self-contained.” Since I attended the general education classes, I never interacted with any of these children. These interactions (or lack thereof) were the first memories of differently-abled persons that I drew on when making sense of Everett’s diagnosis. And I’ll have to confess…this scared the ever living crap out of me. The thought of my child being swept away from his typical peers and isolated from his school community was heart-wrenching. Absolutely heart-wrenching. I learned quickly thereafter that the days of “self-contained” classrooms are a thing of the past and that “inclusion” is now a feature at many schools. Inclusion occurs when kiddos with different abilities learn alongside their typical peers in a general education classroom. There is “full inclusion” and there are variations of inclusion where differently-abled children are pulled out of a gen ed classroom for speech therapy (just one example). I have no idea what kind of inclusion we will want for Everett, but for now, I know we will push for what we think he needs. I’m definitely still a student in this area and parents of older children are serving as my teachers. Meanwhile, the good people at Kinderfrogs are preparing Everett for the next step…mainstream kindergarten at a public school. I am so grateful for our friends at Kinderfrogs. Everett is getting geared up for the “real world” while enrolled there. And so am I. This photo is one of Everett working hard in the pre-K class.
I’ll add…I hear some school districts are better than others at inclusion. I also hear that the administrators at the school (i.e. the principal) can make or break the inclusion system in place. I have also heard that the conversations that parents have with their typically developing kiddos directly impact the inclusion systems in place. Please talk to your children about acceptance and inclusion. Those conversations trickle upwards to school administrators and appropriate changes/enhancements can be made. There are still schools, today, that want to shuttle our kids off to the self-contained classrooms. This needs to stop, and we (as in me, my kids, you, your kids, etc.) have a hand in stopping it.