There is quite a controversy (at least in Hawaii) over whether or not children with severe disabilities should be included in the regular education setting. Since I am a one on one for a child with a severe disability in a public school, I’m confronted with this controversy everyday.
The child I work with is in fifth grade and has autism. He has always been in a fully self-contained (FSC) classroom, which means that aside from recess and lunch, he basically spends the entire day in the Special Education classroom, with only severely disabled peers, working one on one (not in groups) with an adult. This year we (the SpEd teacher and I) decided he was going to spend at least part of his day “included” with his regular education class. The reason I’m advocating inclusion for this particular child is because I’ve noticed he is happier, displays fewer problem behaviors, and communicates more when surrounded by and engaged with his neuro-typical peers. Not to mention this is the only way to attempt to improve his social skills.
So far, it’s been great. He makes transitions easily (a shock) and has been much more flexible with changes. Granted, we are only in the second week of school, but these are outcomes I certainly didn’t expect.
Where it gets controversial is with the other teachers. They seem uncomfortable, scared, unsure with his presence. They place him in the back of the room and rarely talk to him. A few have voiced concerns with the Special Education teacher, claiming it is a detriment to the other children to have him in class. Today the school counselor saw us in math, he came up to us and asked why we were there. I tried to explain that it’s good for him to be around his peers more, that being in this setting fosters independence, well it didn’t matter. After class, he went straight to the SpEd teacher, telling her that independence was one thing, but this was crossing the line.
I haven’t quite been able to wrap my head around why this is crossing the line. It’s not hurting anyone, in fact it is probably a really good thing for the other kids to have contact with their severely disabled peers. Once again I’m completely humbled, these are the attitudes these children have to deal with daily. They really are Special people, much stronger than me.
On a lighter note the trout turned out pretty good. Popped the whole fish, stuffed with thyme and sliced lemon, in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Should have done 35 minutes, it was a little over cooked.