Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization Inclusion Statement January 2016
The Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization believes that all people with disabilities have the right to fully participate in all aspects of society, alongside other members of the community. This philosophy of inclusion extends to every area of life, including, but not limited to, housing, work, education, healthcare, relationships, and recreation. An inclusive society is one in which everyone belongs. The philosophy of inclusion goes beyond the idea of physical location and incorporates basic values and a belief system that promotes the participation, belonging and interaction among all members.
- Inclusion in housing means that people with disabilities have a right to live in the community, in a house or apartment of their choice, in the neighborhood of their choice, and with whom they choose.
- Inclusion in work means that people with disabilities have a right to a meaningful job of their choice, making competitive wages, and living up to their potential.
- Inclusion in education means that people with disabilities have a right to attend their home school (or school of choice) in a general education environment, with same-age peers, with the support and services necessary for their success.
- Inclusion in healthcare means that people with disabilities are served by the medical personnel of their choice, and are listened to and respected as experts on their own health.
- Inclusion in relationships means that people with disabilities have friends, both with and without disabilities, and engage in reciprocal, fulfilling relationships, including marriage if they so choose.
- Inclusion in recreation means that people with disabilities have access to community recreation activities of their interest and choosing, with supports available so they can actively participate.
Check out these links for some current, quick info about inclusion. Scroll down to find Frequently Asked Questions and Dispelling the Myths of Inclusive Education.
Children with Disabilities Benefit from Classroom Inclusion
It’s time to end segregation of special education students, professors say.
Inclusive Schools Network Inclusion Basics
Facebook Group called “Inclusion for Children with Down Syndrome”
There is NO PLACE called Inclusion article
Let’s Get Rid of Special Education
Project Participate – Project Participate provides families, educators, administrators and therapists with simple strategies to increase the active participation of students with disabilities in school programs. Supported by a U.S. Department of Education grant, Project Participate facilitates team collaboration and promotes the appropriate uses of technology in the classroom. Explore the site to see success stories and learn practical solutions to enhance learning, teaching, and the full inclusion of students with disabilities in the classroom. Download sample curricular adaptations, handouts for training, intervention planning forms and more!
Paula’s website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of her work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.
In this web space you will find articles, web links, and resources that can be used to inspire positive change in schools and communities. You will find the following beliefs reflected in the pages of this website:
- Students with disabilities are experts in their own lives;
- Students with disabilities should have opportunities to educate, collaborate with and learn from their peers and their teachers;
- The families of students with disabilities should be given meaningful opportunities to partner with their child’s school;
- All students deserve schools that are welcoming;
- All students deserve curriculum and instruction that is engaging, appropriate, challenging, and respectful;
- All students should be valued and viewed as making unique and worthwhile contributions to the school community.
Into the Mainstream – article in Teaching Tolerance, Spring 2010
Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization has been advocating for inclusion in school and community for individuals with Down syndrome and related disabilities for over 30 years. We were excited to be present on May 24, 2004, when the Palm Beach County School Board directed the Superintendent to develop a three year implementation plan for the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education! The actual development of a plan was long in coming but with hard work from many partners, a District Inclusion Plan was presented to the Board in December, 2006.
SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES DISTRICT INCLUSION PLAN!
by Sue Davis-Killian
Wow – a day we thought we would never see. Three years of hard work finally paid off. On December 6th, 2006 at a Workshop on Inclusion, all seven members of the Palm Beach County School Board endorsed the District’s Inclusion Plan. Many parents, teachers and principals spoke in favor of the plan. Even more importantly, no one spoke against it. Every School Board member spoke glowing about the plan and the critical need for our county to move to Inclusive Models.
The Inclusion Plan laid out the path for every school in the district to move to an Inclusive Model in the next three years. No longer is it a Principal’s choice – now it is required. The Plan includes all the items necessary to make Inclusion work, including teacher training, resource re-allocation, and placement guidelines.
So what does this mean to you and your child? In the short term, it means that schools are now aware that they have to move to inclusion. You now have more backing when you argue for an inclusive placement for your child. Everyone knows it is easier to include a child who has always been included, so it doesn’t make much sense for a school to move your child to a segregated placement at this point. In the long term, it means that over the next three years, there should be fewer and fewer of us having to fight to obtain an inclusive placement for our children. Does it mean that an inclusive placement will be guaranteed? Unfortunately, no. However, after three years, every school should be prepared to do Inclusion. This means that many of the obstacles that we have encountered in the past when trying to get an inclusive placement will be gone. Over time, the hope is that placement decisions will be made based on what is best for an individual child, rather than what placements the school has available.
Although we are certainly aware that this plan will not solve every problem, it is a huge step. We have public approval of Inclusion by the School Board and the Superintendent. It is a time to celebrate and reenergize while preparing for the next step – making sure the district implements the plan correctly!
Integrating special needs and typical students in the classroom
By Patricia S. Phelan, Esq.
The trend in special education law has moved away from segregating students with special needs. Instead, there is a movement toward educating disabled or special needs students and non-disabled or typical students together. Today, the best practices involve the inclusion of special needs students with typically developing peers to the maximum extent possible.
What Do the Terms Mean?
Although often used interchangeably, various terms describing educating students with and without special needs in one classroom do not mean the same thing to everyone. Here are some terms and their standard definitions, at least how they will be considered for this article.
- Inclusion— placing a special education student in a general education setting. The school brings specially designed supports and instruction to the student, rather than removing the disabled student from a general education setting to receive special education services. A special educator is usually involved in the student’s education either as a consultant or co-teacher (along with a regular education teacher) for some or all of the day.
- Mainstreaming— placing a special education student in one or more regular education classes once the student has shown an ability to keep up with work assigned in a special education class. A mainstream classroom generally has no special education teacher.
- Integration— placing a special education student in a setting with both disabled and non-disabled students, often just for a portion of each school day. When integration is on a part-time basis, it can make a special needs student feel like a visitor, unattached and excluded from the integrated class.
- Integrated co-teaching— placing a special education student in a setting with disabled and non-disabled students where teachers (minimally a special education and a general education teacher) are assigned to the class. In a recent effort to standardize the varied terminology used by many school districts, New York State added the term “integrated co-teaching services” to their continuum of potential services.
The Limits of Inclusion
The federal laws guiding special education in every state include the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Each law requires that special needs students be educated with typical students in regular education settings to the maximum extent appropriate. In fact, a school district can only remove a child from a standard classroom “when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” This presumption for an inclusive educational environment, to the maximum extent appropriate, is known as the “least restrictive environment.”
What Does the Research Say?
More than 15 years of research supports the benefits of inclusion to everyone involved. There is no research reporting negative side effects. Students with special needs in inclusion settings benefit from:
- greater access to the general curriculum.
- improved reading performance.
- increased social opportunities and appropriate role models.
- higher expectations resulting in increased achievement of IEP goals.
- increased skill acquisition and generalization opportunities.
- enhanced parent participation.
- greater opportunities to be integrated into the community (the same goes for their families), fostering a sense of belonging and friendships with neighborhood peers.
- increased self-respect and confidence.
- preparation for adult life in an inclusive society.
- higher employment rate (for disabled high school students).
Students without special needs in inclusion settings benefit from:
- greater academic outcomes, particularly in math.
- smaller class sizes and more organized classrooms.
- increased application of learning strategies beneficial to all students.
- enhanced feelings of self-esteem from mentoring students with needs.
- increased appreciation of oneself and acceptance that all people have unique qualities.
- increased sensitivity regarding the limitations of others.
- enhanced respect and empathy for all people.
- strong socialization and collaborative skills.
- preparation for adult life in an inclusive society.
Parents of typical students placed in an inclusion class may worry their children do not receive adequate attention, fearing the disabled classmates monopolize a teacher’s attention. Parents may also worry that their children are held back by a curriculum that is “dumbed down” for the special needs students. Research shows neither concern is justified.
And teachers benefit from inclusive education through increased training, enhanced support from the school administration, reduced class sizes and teaching a classroom of students who are making great academic gains with extensive opportunities for socialization.
Moreover, the cost of educating students in inclusion settings is much lower than segregating students. One study reports the cost of educating students in segregated settings is double that of educating students in integrated settings.
Perhaps you have read research in recent years that has suggested that inclusive settings, while not harmful, are no more effective than non-inclusive settings. Nevertheless, proponents of inclusion rationalize that the lack of successful inclusion in such studies stems from students placed in general education classrooms without adequate support systems. Parents, educators and administrators must remember that the appropriate use of supplementary aids and services for each student are critical elements to any student’s successful inclusion experience. All parties must maintain proper goals and high expectations for students, and administrators must particularly provide adequate staff training and supports.
Resources Regarding Inclusion:
Patricia S. Phelan, Esq., runs The Law Office of Patricia S. Phelan, a New York firm dedicated exclusively to advocating for the special education needs of children with disabilities and their parents. Phelan is a parent of a child classified with a disability. To learn more about The Law Office of Patricia S. Phelan, log onto www.phelanspecialedlaw.com or call (845)398-FAPE.