How to Know if Your Special Needs Child has an Inclusive Education by Nicole Eredics

Inclusive education is an approach to education that includes all learners, regardless of ability. It is not a program or teaching strategy. In fact, inclusive education is a school- wide philosophy that is practiced by all members of the school community. It’s benefits, too numerous to list, is regarded by special education experts, to be the gold-standard in delivering educational services to students with special needs.

Unfortunately, many schools claim they provide an inclusive education but fail to live up to the beliefs and practice of inclusion. For example, a school may state they have an environment that includes all learners, yet still offer a classroom only for students with moderate to severe disabilities. Despite an earnest attempt, inclusion has no boundaries, rules or guidelines about who or who cannot be included.

How do we really know then, if inclusion is truly occurring? Here are some signs that indicate your child is really receiving an inclusive education:

1. Your child is placed in a general education classroom with same-age peers.

2. Your child’s books, belongings, desk and learning materials are in the general education classroom, not in an alternate room.

3. The teacher knows your child’s abilities, interests and areas for growth.

4. School work is age appropriate, relevant to the curriculum and adapted to your child’s needs.

5. Your child attends recess and lunch at the same time as his or her classmates.

6. Your child plays with peers at recess and lunch, not alone or with an isolated group of children who have special needs.

7. Your child can name or identify classmates and talk about common experiences such as class events, special days or activities.

8. Most of your child’s day is spent in his or her classroom, following the same routines as the rest of the class.

9. Support services are delivered to your child in the classroom or with minimal disruption to the day.

10. Your child participates in class field trips, performances and all class activities to the best of his or her ability.

Nicole Eredics is an elementary teacher who has spent over 15 years teaching in inclusive classrooms. She is also a parent, advocate and frequent blogger. Nicole currently co-hosts The Inclusive Class Podcast on Fridays at 9 AM EST. In addition, she has developed and discovered many valuable resources for parents, teachers and schools that she shares on her blog, The Inclusive Class, on Twitter at @InclusiveClass  and on Facebook at The Inclusive Class.

7 Comments

  • John Posted October 8, 2013 3:13 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    I really enjoyed reading this blog, I wished I could have referred to it in my blog post that I just put up regarding IEP’s meetings.
    Keep up the great work and can I refer to your blogs in the future?
    Cheers!
    John Mews, MA, MTA

    • Lorna dEntremont Posted October 8, 2013 4:11 pm

      Hello John,
      Thanks for your comment. I liked reading your post, 5 Helpful Tips to Make Your Child’s I.E.P Meeting More Tolerable Than Terrifying http://mewsicmoves.com/blog/5helpfultipsforiep

    • Nicole Eredics Posted October 10, 2013 2:36 pm

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the feedback and you are more than welcome to refer to my posts in the future. I have enjoyed looking through your site and learning more about the work you do. We do a weekly podcast, if you are ever interested in joining to talk about music therapy. Just drop me an email!

      Best,

      Nicole
      http://www.theinclusiveclass.com

  • Susan Posted January 10, 2014 10:11 am

    Great article! I cry every night because my bright, engaging, bubbly 5 year old has been put in a self contained classroom. He has behavior issues stemming from ADHD and sensory disorder. He never even sees a typically developing peer in his day. He even rides a different bus. This school district treats inclusion like a reward for doing what they want the child to do. I fought to get him even 15 minutes a day which the gen Ed teacher agreed to but the Iep team shot the idea down. They turned it into yet another EXclusion opportunity where my child will be brought to a conference room with one other spec ed child and two children from gen Ed but he is only allowed to start this if the school behaviorist thinks he has been good the week before. We hired a lawyer and will be looking into moving to more inclusive school district. How do I research what districts provide inclusive education?

    • Lorna dEntremont Posted January 10, 2014 10:32 am

      Thanks Susan for sharing your story with us. I can see you must find it difficult to see your 5 year old not included at school. We live in Canada; therefore, I am not knowlegeable about the US school policies. The author of the post you just read is Nicole Eredics and this is her website: http://www.theinclusiveclass.com/ You might find the answers you are looking for on her site or a contact who can help you. The best to you and yours in 2014!

  • Marla Murasko Posted May 29, 2014 9:38 pm

    Great article, can’t wait to share it. I believe a lot of the above applies to my son educational experience. There are some questions I have about the modifications to the classwork, and it took me fighting to get my son out of a private break room only shared by him, his aide and two other aides during lunch to get him into the lunchroom with his peers. I truly believe you need to know what’s going on in your child’s school, ask questions and advocate for them because no one else will.

    • Lorna dEntremont Posted May 30, 2014 9:55 am

      Thanks Marla Murasko for your input. Happy to read you found our post by Nicole Eredics on Inclusive Education helpful. Yes, you have a great tip,” I truly believe you need to know what’s going on in your child’s school, ask questions and advocate for them because no one else will.”

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