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My Child With a Disability Needs to Belong

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Often times educators and non-disabled people misunderstand inclusion.

Inclusion is a mindset.

Inclusion is seeing the value in each student. It is seeing the individual student for the gifts, strengths and talents they have. It is meeting the student where they are and raising them up.

They will say my child can’t keep up. They say my child will never be at grade level. But that’s OK!

It’s about exposure to that general education curriculum. It’s about having a basic understanding of what the other students are talking about while waiting in line to go to the library, or when talking at lunch. It’s about developing commonalities with those general education peers. It’s about being comfortable and able to carry on conversations with those peers. It’s about finding friendships and belonging.

Raymond with a group of friends at school.

My child needs to be around those general education peers. My child needs to be in those general education classrooms. Those students in the classroom will grow to be my child’s neighbors, his doctors and dentists, his supervisors and his fellow employees. They need to be around my child just as much as my child needs to be around them.

It’s that simple. We all live in one world!

I want my child to have a job. I want my child to live in an apartment with a roommate. I want my child to know his neighbors and have friends at work. I want him to be a valued part of his community.

If that is the goal, we need to look ahead. We cannot expect my child to be invisible, in a secluded classroom, and then suddenly appear at age 21 when school ends. My child needs to be included.

Schools are the heart of a community. My child needs to belong to that community.

Raymond with a group of friends at school.

Originally published: February 27, 2020
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