Sunday, June 29, 2008

Random thoughts on summertime, inclusion, and special ed "seclusion"

Summer time and the living is ...? How has your transition to summer been this year? Sayer just completed his first week of day camp, and has told me on more than one occasion that he wants to go back to school!! I think he misses the routine, and being the kids in his inclusion class, his "peeps."

Some parents think that when children with disabilities are around others like them they become "more" disabled; i.e. kids with autism who are in a class with other kids with autism become "more autistic" and take on new stimming behavior.

When Sayer was younger I felt that way, too. But my feelings about inclusion vs. segregation have shifted over time. Now, I think that Sayer feels a sense of belonging and calm when he is with his special ed class mates. Being with his "regular" class mates is great, too, but I don't think it has the impact on his self-esteem as being with his group of special needs kids. Also, as time has gone by I've come to believe that Sayer's "autistic like" behaviors stem from what's going on inside him, not what he sees around him.

I'm curious what other moms think. Have they found that their kids imitate others with disabilities? Do they mimic typical kids more? Have your views on inclusion and special ed seclusion changed over time? Please share.

While Sayer is missing school, I am too. Oddly, I have felt a kind of homesickness for his teachers - I miss the back and forth feed-back and encouraging words. Like a reader "K" says, teachers can be a bit like family. It's a bit frustrating to start at ground zero and explain how Sayer "works" to the staff at his day camp.

Maybe I need some kind of "operating manual." Does anyone have any ideas for tools for communicating caregivers, camp staff and school staff about how to most effectively interact with our kids?

1 comment:

Pam said...

Hi Carol, your statement about behavior coming from within rather than from others around you was excellent, and I agree. My son is now 20 and we have run the whole range from full inclusion to total segregation. My feeling now is that inclusion, done right, can be very good. By done right I mean small class with appropriate support. Geoffrey's kindergarten class was a dream. Public school class of 15 with a highly structured teacher and an experienced aide. All the kids did great. Inclusion not properly supported is a nightmare for all. There is an other, less talked about option. That is referred to sometimes as "reverse inclusion". This is where typical peers come into the special ed classroom; they are the ones being pulled out. And they are pulled out for something special. This can be done at all grades. My son's high school self contained classroom had some VSAA (art school) students come and they read stories together and made up a skit based on the fable "The Nightingale" It was a huge win win.

On your other topic, camp and summer, we too, miss the more predictable rythym of the school year. I find benefit in having Geoffrey attend just half days of day camp (Vancouver Parks and Rec gladly does this and you get half the money off). This way I get a break, he has a manageable level of chaos, and we can lunch and relax later. And did I mention that Burgerville has its onion rings on the menu..........ummmmmm. Pam