If you are not willing to differentiate instruction for the wide range of learners that you have, including students with autism, then you are in the wrong profession.
-Holly Prud’homme (General Education Teacher at Mape Wood Elementary in New Hampshire)
Are some students too hard to include in general education?
It has been my experience that the reason inclusive education fails is never because of the student; it fails because of lack of support or not the right kind of support. The following video, “Thaysa” made by Dan Habib (Including Samuel, Who Cares about Kelsey? and Intelligent Lives), is the perfect example of how a student with significant support needs is given what she requires to be successful in general education.
Is this example going to be the model for everyone? Of course not. The model is the willingness to try and listen to what each student is telling us. Inevitably, there are going to be students (and families) who don’t want to be included in general education. That is okay. Why would we want to force someone with a disability to do something that they don’t want to do? The point is that inclusive education should never be a fixed equation. You are X. Therefore you are put in X classroom with X amount of supports. When we reduce special education to a formula, we are not serving the unique needs of our students.
Inclusion Is a Mindset
Say it with me. Inclusion is a mindset.
Now that you have said it, watch the video below. It is about 14 minutes long, and it highlights what Thaysa’s school has in place for her to be successful. Then, after you watch it, check out Dan’s other films. You won’t regret it.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in 2012 and has been updated with a new featured image, formatting, and new post content.