Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 for 21: DAY 10 :: Inclusion and Moving Forward

We recently dealt with some issues at Jack's preschool that I have not yet shared with everyone.  I really don't want to get into it all the details in such a public arena, but I will tell you that we have taken Jack out of the preschool he started in the beginning of September.  We did this for many reasons, one being his separation anxiety and difficulty adjusting to the classroom, but mostly because we simply felt that the school was not right for Jack.  We plan to give Jack a break from school for a while, in hopes that he forgets about his negative experiences there (he was very unhappy there and would cry nonstop, which broke everyone's hearts).  We are going to take our time over the next couple of months to explore other options and find the place where Jack can most succeed. 

The entire experience made me wonder more about inclusion, and what it means for a program to truly be "inclusive".  It definitely means more than just saying your program is "inclusive", that's for sure.

Down Syndrome Fact of the Day #10:

Children with Down syndrome today are included in regular academic classrooms across the country.  Students with Ds may be integrated into specific courses or fully included in the regular classroom for all subjects. 

When speaking with a friend about our recent preschool experience, she asked me, "What exactly is inclusion?"  So, I thought I would take a moment to explain.  Inclusion is a philosophy of education based on the belief in every person’s inherent right to fully participate in society.  It implies acceptance of differences and access to the educational experiences that are fundamental to every student’s development.  When effectively implemented, research has demonstrated academic and social benefits for all students - both those who have special needs as well as typical students.  Friendships develop, typically-developing students are more appreciative of differences and students with disabilities are more motivated.  True acceptance of diversity will ultimately develop within the school environment and is then carried into the home, workplace, and community. 

Whereas taking Jack out of preschool was not the ideal situation, we absolutely had to do what was BEST for our son.  The school was simply not the right place for our Jack.  It was definitely one of the more difficult things I have had to do since Jack was born, but it certainly taught me a lot about the world as others see it and more than I already knew about the world from the eyes of mom with an exceptional child.  Like many lessons in life, I was reminded that there will always be things in the world we are unable to change, no matter how hard we try.  So, rather than dwell on our negative experiences, we are going to use this as an opportunity to learn and move forward, on to more positive places in our life. 

Wish us luck!!!

Looking forward to new beginnings!

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