Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Persons with Disabilities Day

Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities!

This morning I spoke with an educational consultant/advocate about my concerns re Ben's high-school placement.

He gave me hope that it was worth fighting for a setting that meets Ben's needs. If we're told, as we have been so many times before, "there are no options," then the law says that the board has to "create" something. I have a team meeting at the school on Monday and will be asking them to reconvene the IPRC.

The Canadian Association for Community Living today released its National Report Card on the Inclusion of Canadians with Intellectual Disabilities, 2010.

There is some good news. Children with intellectual disabilities in high-inclusion school settings report excellent or very good health (78 per cent compared to 49 per cent in low-inclusion settings). In high-inclusion placements, children with intellectual disabilities report doing 'very well' or 'well at interacting with peers (56% compared to 38 per cent in low-inclusion settings). And some provinces have colleges and universities offering fully inclusive education (Alberta has 17 such facilities).

On the down side, only 33 per cent of children with intellectual disabilities are in high-inclusion school settings. Children with an intellectual disability are four times more likely than other children with disabilities to be attending special-education schools. Forty-one per cent of children with intellectual disabilities felt threatened at school or on the bus, and more than a third were assaulted at school or on the bus. More than half of young adults aged 20-29 years with intellectual disabilities are neither working nor attending school, compared with 12 per cent of those without a disability. And finally, young adults with intellectual disabilities are five times more likely than those without disabilities to have no formal education certificate.

The CACL's vision: All people with intellectual disabilities are fully included with their peers in regular education, with appropriate supports from early childhood through to post-secondary and adult life-long learning.

Here are a few unrelated, news stories of interest:

Stunting disabled children's growth is 'morally permissible,' group says

Up syndrome

Care at home: A new civil right

Severely disabled adults win round in court battle

Where's Molly?

Have a great weekend! Louise


as a PT working in EI/ECSE, i have a hard time saying "ALL children" need anything, educationally, other than an appropriate setting--which is going to look different for each and every child--and SHOULD look different, as all the children have different needs! inclusive settings can be wonderful, for many children, but not necessarily for all.

Elizabeth...I'm 100% with you on this.

Hi Elizabeth -- It's great to hear from you. I guess I don't believe in separate schools for kids with disabilities -- even though my son attends one. I think all children need to be with a mix of kids -- those with and without disabilities. I like the CACL vision because the emphasis is on inclusion -- with appropriate supports (which of course, don't typically happen).

I feel typical children and those with disabilities miss out when they are separated "based on ability."

What's most important is what Ben needs and from everything you write it sounds like he would benefit from an inclusive setting where he is challenged at his academic level using the necessary supports. That's clearly not happening now and it's so great that you are speaking up about it. I have found that we have been more successful when we propose the placement and plan and "just" had to convince the district. In the US, in our state, in our city, it seems that they are reluctant to offer things unless the parent advocates strongly. I do hope it's not the same in Canada, and that the board will come up with something great for Ben with your input. Good luck and keep us posted!!

hi louise,

to comment in re: ben, it sure sounds like inclusion would be great for him! and i'm with you...literacy, especially for kids who are already literate, is key. ben's education should absolutely be a curriculum modified to his needs and will be most successful if based on highly motivating things such as star wars--though it is worth noting that "typical" kids have to learn a great deal in school that is not motivating to them (math in my case...sigh); as i type this, i am wondering how to relate that to special ed, and what would be appropriate, but that's neither here nor there in this particular conversation. :)

i'm not a fan of separate schools either, and i am sorry there are not many options for ben and for so many other kids. however, in my experience and opinion, for some children, separate classrooms within a typical school are necessary for learning. not all children, and not even most children...but some. i might be wrong. i might be right. i might be both.

nobody wants to be reminded of this because it's such a sad reality, but a great deal of special education design is funding-based, and has little if anything to do with the vision that parents and professionals have for these children. parent advocacy to your representatives in government is really the only thing that can change funding levels and thereby the options that are available.

have you taken video of ben at home? video is a powerful tool to bring to an IFSP/IEP/SETT meeting to help convince people who only see a slice of ben of all the things he can do.

also, i do NOT believe in separation based on "ability", whatever that is, even within separate classrooms. the school-aged programs in the districts i work in do that, and it drives me crazy. in EC, i had to really advocate for "my" kids, who tend to have more severe needs, even within my own team of eight professionals who i know to be amazing. the team wanted them all in the same group. i wanted them to have peer models--even though most of the kids are delayed in one area or another, i fully believe they are competent models for each other. it's harder, because even in a "fully" staffed special ed classroom, the supports aren't there. but it's the right thing to do, always.