Inclusion is a funny thing that seems to mean all sorts of different things to different people, so I thought I’d put together a list for those of us who have special people in their lives, be that professionally or personally; you know those people who find it difficult to learn things or have specific disabilities.
- It’s not saying that everyone is welcome and then being flummoxed as to what to do with them when they turn up and sticking them in a corner or out in the corridor with a Special Helper and a box of cars or an iPad.
- It’s not having the exact same expectations for them as for the rest of the class/group, all in the name of aspiration.
- It’s not letting them get away with whatever they please because, aww, look at them, they haven’t got much, or they can’t understand, or they can’t process that bit of information.
- It’s not making no allowances for differences in behaviour because that would be singling them out for special treatment.
- It’s not playing with them because that’s what your role is, and you feel the need to justify your job.
- It’s not rushing on before you’ve checked they are ready, because that is the next thing to learn on the list and they’ve done it three times so we can highlight in green.
- It’s not putting them through a fixed curriculum, regardless of how useful it will be to them in adult life.
- It’s not saying everything is alright when it’s not because that’s what you think people want to hear.
What it is is this:
- Getting to know that person, so that you can respond to what they actually need (and that includes physical needs).
- Getting to know that person’s family, and involving their primary caregiver in making decisions about their education, activity or whatever else it is they are joining in.
- Always keeping in mind the purpose of an education: of fitting them out with the knowledge and skills they will need in order to enter into society and live an independent life.
In order to do that you need to have:
- An understanding, and it doesn’t have to be a huge in depth one, of the hurdles the child has overcome to get them where they are today, and an inkling of some of the mountains they will need to climb in order to get them where they need to go.
- An open heart.
- An active imagination, tempered with realism.