Blog #221~Inclusion in a General Education Classroom for Students with Down Syndrome
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. An individual with Down syndrome can be included in a general education classroom with the right support, accommodations and curriculum modifications. This requires collaboration with the school team and understanding the needs of the student. Inclusion education happens when children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classes. How can you advocate for an inclusive education environment for a student having Down syndrome?
*Inclusion in a general education classroom starts with a school team who is aware and understands what the experience can look like. If the school does not support inclusion, the parent (and bringing an advocate on board) can help to educate the staff. There is no one size fits all on inclusion, as each student is individual and unique in their needs. Inclusion is not a place, but rather an experience. Finding the right teachers, who are willing to set an open environment in the general education classroom is also a key ingredient to the success of inclusion.
Here are some examples of how inclusion can work:
Educate your school and community by hosting a screening for Inclusive Schools Week. “Inclusive Schools Week is a proud partner with INTELLIGENT LIVES, the groundbreaking new documentary by Dan Habib. Narrated by Academy-award winning actor Chris Cooper, the film stars three pioneering young adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer, and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. The film can now be screened in every community across the USA – host your own screening for Inclusive Schools Week! Intelligent Lives can help you advocate for change, raise funds for your organization, and open doors to inclusive education and employment for people of ALL abilities.” Go to http://www.intelligentlives.org to watch the film trailer and to learn how to host a screening in your communitye-it-to-believe-it/
Watch the trailer: https://intelligentlives.org/trailer
*Create a one page profile sheet of your child to share with the school team and class. There are many great ideas on Pinterest to create this.
Here are some suggestions with examples on what to include:
-Picture of student
-Strengths (counting, matching, visual learner, receptive language, funny, wants to work)
-What works for student (visual schedule, patience, positive reinforcement, reminders before transitions)
-What doesn’t work for the student (sudden changes in schedule, taking something away, saying no or talking to firmly)
-What the student enjoys (music, making friends, Starfall computer game, dancing)
What the student needs (checklists, visual schedules, motor breaks, sensory break area, etc.)
*Inclusion works best with a solid Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and when the student is supported with a classroom aide/paraprofessional.
*Inclusion works best when the IEP includes all needed accommodations and modifications in the curriculum. Accommodations are the tools needed for the student to succeed in the classroom. Some examples might include a special pencil grip, nubby seat cushion, visual timer, calculator, built in motor breaks, communication device or picture exchange system (PECS) book. Modifications to the curriculum allow the student to learn the grade level material , but simplified. This helps the student learn at their own level what is most meaningful for them. Goals in the IEP should be driven to promote further education, independence and future employment skills.
Here are two books that I recommend for learning more about how inclusion works for individuals with Down syndrome:
As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, Woodbine House also has many books about teaching reading and math skills for individuals with Down syndrome. This month Woodbine House is offering a 30% discount on these books:
Click here to view the selections https://www.woodbinehouse.com/
Inclusion in a general education classroom can work for individuals with Down syndrome. It benefits all students, and promotes a since of community and acceptance, that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities desire. With the right attitude, support, accommodations and modifications, inclusion in a regular classroom setting can be a rewarding and successful experience for individuals with Down syndrome, their peers and the school staff.
That’s what is in my noggin this week.
Follow my son Nick who is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism:
Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism