I don’t know which side of the fence you are on in regard to inclusive education. And for all intents and purposes…it does not matter. This post could just as easily have been called, No…Really…I’m Not Crazy…Inclusive Education Works! Usually when I talk to people who are not familiar with the idea of having students with disabilities (including significant disabilities) in the general education setting they say they are having a hard time “wrapping their head around it” or want to see “what it actually looks like”. So…just for those of you who need to see it to believe it, I have picked out five videos that will most definitely change your mind about whether inclusive education is really a good thing or not (or at least they should).
Including Issac is a 13 minute video about a boy with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and his story of inclusion in a private Christian school in Michigan. It takes commitment from a school on all levels to make inclusion work for students with significant disabilities and this a clear example of how coming together for the benefit of one student can benefit all students. Watch this beautifully filmed and powerful video.
Damian’s Inclusion Project
This video was made by the Georgia Department of Education (2011) to highlight a pilot inclusion program for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in cooperation with Cobb County Schools. I am currently working on a follow up video to show how Damian is progressing through his 4th grade year (slated Fall of 2014). He is currently included for all segments in general education.
Thasya Lumingkewas, 8, has autism and thrives at Maple Wood Elementary School in Somersworth, NH. The school has implemented Response to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This film highlights the power of presuming competence, differentiated instruction and augmentative and alternative communication.
Tana Vogele’s Story
Every year since Kindergarten, Tana Vogele has been included in general education classrooms despite her significant physical and intellectual disabilities. Watch this compelling video about the friendships that have been nurtured during her 4th grade year and what inclusion does to a classroom and school community.
This short film (16:39) focuses on Axel Cortes and the staff at Idelhurst Elementary School in Somersworth, NH. Axel is a fifth grader with autism who is non-verbal and exhibited significant behavioral challenges when he arrived at school. Axel came to Idelhurst during his 5th grade year from another school where he was exclusively in self-contained settings and was being taught preschool/kindergarten level. Through effective implementation of supports – including AAC, UDL, RtI, social stories, visual schedules and positive behavioral supports – Axel was able to learn 5th grade general education curriculum in a general education classroom within a few months. His challenging behaviors also decreased, and he thrived through interaction and engagement with ‘typical’ peers. Once Axel had an effective means of communication, the staff found that Axel was was bilingual and bi-literate (his family speaks Spanish at home).
This film illustrates the potential for students with significant cognitive disabilities to achieve high academic outcomes. The film has received support from the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC).
The video shows how Axel accesses his environment via Augmentative and Alternative Communication as well as how his classmates accept him into their community. Watch how Axel is learning to type independently and makes strides with communicating his wants and needs in the general education setting.
Sometimes we need to see examples of inclusion to really understand that it is possible and happening all over the world. Perhaps you are the one who can influence your local school to implement inclusive practices.