Updated: Jun 22
Karen Hope Blacher, a mom of three neurodivergent children and a general education teacher, just went viral… again. She recently posted on Facebook about how, although her classroom only has neurotypical students, she has designed her classroom with her students’ various needs in mind, complete with sensory objects, a calm corner, and much needed one-on-one time between her and her students.
Blacher’s post was so popular that it even earned her some attention from Good Morning America, where she reflected that she was surprised so many people were taken with her post because she thought everyone already knew the positives of inclusive classrooms.
After all the attention, Blacher returned to her personal blog to write about her classroom in further detail through the post “Choices and Voices: The Nuts and Bolts of Inclusive Teaching.”
Blacher admits she isn’t an expert by any means, but she’s learned a lot from her children and students. One of the main lessons they’ve taught her is the positives of providing students with opportunities and outlets that aren’t seen in many schools.
This includes giving students choices, allowing their voices to be heard, teaching them emotional literacy, providing sensory experiences and time to take a break when they feel overwhelmed, and giving them the option to design their own days and weeks in a way that best serves their personal learning styles.
Blacher’s takeaway: “When we treat autistic children the way the world tells us to treat neurotypical children, they suffer. But I have never encountered a single human being, of any age or neurotype, who doesn’t thrive when treated like an autistic person.”
But an even larger takeaway might be that inclusive education isn’t as impossible as some believe. If every classroom was designed to teach a diverse group of people (even those who are neurodivergent), not only would it allow neurotypical students to thrive in a way they wouldn’t otherwise, it also would open doors for every student to be included in the neighborhood school and classroom they would attend if they were not disabled.
Though inclusive practices are not just about mindset, when we open our minds to teach in unique, diverse ways, the possibilities for students both with and without disabilities seem endless.
Kayla Kingston is the Communications Specialist for MCIE. A recent graduate of the University of Dayton, she loves reading, writing, and supporting all things inclusion.