Growing a Tree

"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

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In my last post, I talked about inclusion, and some of the things I said are very tall orders. There’s something I want to add to that conversation because I think there is a little nuance missing.

Inclusion can be the default position of workplaces and schools, but there still needs to be room for people who choose a different path. For some children, the classroom itself (lights, sounds, movements, etc) is a trigger. For some, full inclusion is not the answer.

What I advocate for is for all children to start in a place of inclusion and provide options for parents when inclusion is not the right choice. Design schools and curriculum around inclusion so the noggin-scratcher isn’t “how does this child fit in?” but “how do we best serve a student for whom full inclusion is not the best option?”

If that becomes the thing to consider, the thing the IEP team has to sit down and really mull over, the hope would be that pull-outs, sensory breaks, and other activities would be done mindfully and with the student’s best interests at heart – not the defaults that all kids with certain disabilities have written into their plans.

Same goes for the workplace. I am in no way advocating for the immediate closure of sheltered workshops. For some, the workshop is a safe place that they like.

I advocate for the default of graduating high school students to try job placement in a meaningful job with real pay. Try it, see what works, what doesn’t. Expect that people can do this instead of the current default – “there’s workshops for people like that.”

I wanted to add to my inclusion discussion because I understand the nuances with each individual, and I would never advocate for an individual to be forced into a situation that makes them scared, angry, or frustrated. I advocate for avoiding the attitude of “oh there’s a special classroom for all kids like that.”

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