Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inclusion part two

I thought about my my last post over the weekend. Because it was written under the typical time constraints, I can see that Gina's comment was unfairly positioned as the one example of "inclusion -- or else" -- when in fact I was writing about a number of experiences I've had or discussed with other parents. It was the comments that followed Ellen's post about the merits of special-needs or mainstream camps that made me feel parents can be strident in their views in a way that doesn't reflect reality for some families.

When I said I contacted a mom of a daughter reaching adulthood after interviewing filmmaker Dan Habib about inclusion, we had a much longer dialogue about how we've had to mix segregated and inclusive activities for our teenage children. And this mom talked about how she thought it was realistic to assume she'd have to do the same when programming her daughter's adult life after high school.

This might involve combining some volunteer work with recreation activities and a day or two of a more traditional sheltered workshop. She questioned whether it was possible to set up and manage five days of inclusive activities without relying on some existing services (short of leaving her job and making her adult child's life a full-time job, which some parents do).

We both sensed that if our children attended a segregated day program as adults -- even part-time -- that parents who had created only inclusive activities for their adult children would view this in a negative light.

And I think the important point here is that parents within the disability community feel judged by others based on the choices they make for their children -- instead of supported.

I've felt the same criticism from parents whose children have gone through the school system in a regular class. There's a sense that parents should fight for full inclusion at all costs -- even if it means their child wouldn't get the supports they need to be successful or safe.

Galen, a pediatric occupational therapist for 30 years, single mom to 10 adopted children with a wide range of disabilities, and BLOOM reader, has written about this in The inclusion debate


Inclusion is a right for our children and it is just as important for our children as it is for the community as a whole. But there are times and places where inclusion may not be the best option. My daughter attends both inclusive and non-inclusive activities in the community and she benefits from both. Her dance class is just for children with developmental delays and it is where I see her have the most enjoyment and freedom with her peers and helpers. A dance class for 'typical' children is too hard emotionally on her, she is aware of her physical delays and notes what others can do. I have seen her in these 'typical' classes and her anxiety is so high as children are pushing past her to get ahead.
One needs to look at the child and determine where they will be the happiest and most at ease; only then will they thrive and learn.