Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What was your first introduction to inclusion?

Last week Eric participated in a panel discussion through our local childcare association about early childhood inclusion. The panel included a preschool directer, early interventionist, a EEE teacher, child care provider and a parent. Each of the panelists were asked to answer the following questions:
  • What was your first experience with inclusion?
  • What is one example of a time inclusion worked well--what made it go well--what did it look like/sound like/feel like?
  • What is one example of a time when inclusion didn't go so well--what did that look like/sound like/feel like?
  • What is one recommendation/wish/ piece of advice you would give to others regarding inclusion?
When Eric was asked to address his first experience with inclusion he talked about an experience he had in college. He shared that one day when coming home from his classes he found himself on a bus sitting next to a young man with Down syndrome. Being friendly, Eric decided to ask the young man what he was doing. This young man shared with him that he was in the process of building a surfboard. Of course this peaked Eric's interest for two reasons: one because we live in New England and nowhere near the coast and (2) because it isn't very often you hear about an individual with Down syndrome building something like a surfboard!

For Eric that encounter represented the spirit of inclusion. Eric didn't know what kind of education this person had, but he knew from talking to him that something had worked. The fact that this young man was riding a bus to town (independently I might add) and talking to Eric about his surfboard showed that something was right about his education. It was clear that this young man's family, teachers, and community found a way to give him the skills and support he needed to pursue his dreams. Isn't that what inclusion is all about?

What was your first introduction to inclusion?

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