I want to talk a bit about inclusion or integration. A lot of people throw those words around and, based on conversations I and other friends have had,
When you aren’t allowed to know who or why…when all you see is this alien being who is so very different from you (hey, come on, how could we KNOW they weren’t? No one ever told us!)…it’s easy to be uncomfortable or scared and you know what fear breeds? Disrespect and bullying. At best these kids were ignored, at worst…well…if you think about it hard enough you can remember what the worst was for them.
If these are your memories of kids with special needs then it’s not surprising to me that you are scared or fearful or angry about integrated classrooms. If these are your memories of kids with special needs then I can understand why you might think that our kids…my kid…doesn’t belong in the classroom with your child. If these are your memories of kids with special needs, as they were mine not so long ago, I can understand why you grumble about the dollars going into special education.
I understand it but I also know better now. I have learned that if that is what you think, you’re wrong. I’m a pretty tolerant person, I can usually see both sides of an argument. I have friends who run the gamut from gay marriage loving liberal hippies to nut job doomsday preppers ((OK, this is a joke peeps…they aren’t all nut jobs I have learned. I even LIKE a bunch of them. Amaze!)) But this “argument” isn’t an argument. If you don’t believe that kids with disabilities belong in our classrooms then you are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Clear? You are wrong.
I’m even willing to explain to you why you are wrong, I’m that much of a giver.
My child belongs in class with yours. My child needs more help, true, but he still belongs. My child has much to learn from yours and your child has much more to learn from mine.
The things my child will learn in that classroom will set him up to be a member of our community when he’s older. He has learned social skills, sharing, perseverance. He has learned how to sit at a desk and work. He has learned how to tell jokes. He has learned to eat with a fork. Jeeze, he was practically potty trained by preschool friends. These are all SO valuable to him, they mean the difference between a life “apart from community” and a life “as part of a community.”
The things that your child will learn in that classroom will not only further his or her education but will make your child a better person. They will have a chance to be both a student and a teacher. They will learn how to break down tasks and help others understand them. They will learn to be a true friend to someone. They will have a chance to learn that different isn’t bad, that different can be pretty freaking fun, actually. They will have a chance to learn that others struggle, sometimes way more than they do. They will have a chance to learn that if something is hard you keep working at it…maybe even for years. They will learn that if you don’t quit, you will achieve your goals. Oh, yeah, they’ll also learn all the other things they would learn even if they weren’t in an integrated class…they still learn the exact same curriculum!
In short, they will learn to be awesome.
Don’t believe me? Let me give an example…Caleb has been ever so slightly obsessed with the Chicken Man the last couple of weeks. Do you know the Chicken Man? He just loves the Chicken Man! SO…he’s been going to school and talking to his friends about the Chicken Man. A lot.
You might think this would be distracting to the other kids, that it might annoy them. You would be wrong. Because they spend so much time with Caleb, he isn’t distracting he’s just Caleb. He’s a funny kid who makes them laugh. He’s just another kid. He’s not alien or weird to them. He’s not distracting…not any more than any of the other typical 8 year old kids in the class at least!
So, great…he’s not taking away from their educational experience but still…what does he add? How about love and compassion and friendship? How about a chance to practice kindness, share a joke or do something nice for someone else? That’s not nothing. In fact, I would guess he’s giving your kids lessons that will make you proud to be their parent. For instance, this kid…he’s part of Caleb’s core group of friends. He’s just your typical 8 year old boy. During art class Caleb was talking to Nate about Chicken Man so Nate did this…
He drew Caleb a Chicken Man. He was in art, he needed to draw and he took the opportunity to make a kid…MY kid…smile. Tell me that wouldn’t make you glow to hear about your own child?
So what did Caleb get out of it? Why wasn’t sitting there watching Nate draw, rather than draw something of his own, not a waste of his time? Contrary to how it might be sounding, I do not send Caleb to school simply to make friends. I just happen to know that the ability to make friends will play a major roll in determining how happy he will be for the rest of his life. I do expect Caleb to learn skills he needs to graduate from high school, go to college and get a job. So what was it, beyond kindness that he got? This child who can barely write his own name, and would rather not do even that if he can escape it, did this…on his own, unprompted…just copying his friend…
He wrote Chicken Man…no, it’s not perfect…but it’s pretty freaking awesome….and something to build on.
43 thoughts on “For the parents of typical kids.”
Well said Money! <3
I love this message. And, not to brag on my son overly much (:-x) But I love that his reports come home mentioning that he is a “student leader” during math, helping other kids. I want him to learn this and develop this trait. It’s a very good thing!
Lady, you’re making me cry. Love this.
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Cortney, you can imagine how I feel every time I see that picture…I just want to find Nate and squeeeeeeze him. Totally mortifying for an 8 year old boy though, I would guess.
Stacie…brag away…TOTALLY an awesome trait for any kid and you obviously did something right…take full credit 😉
YES! I was just talking to my girlfriends last night about inclusion and how beneficial it is for our kids…….also, how different it is from when we were kids. We also talked about how you, and Holly, and many other FX parents talk to the class about FX. I could see the light bulbs turning on in their heads. It was awesome! I’m sharing your blog post with them now! 🙂
aaaw…. I am very emotional reading this … particularly today as it was just yesterday that H got a note from a classmate (I posted a brief blog “this is what acceptance looks like”)
so so happy for you guys that is HUGE 😉
(ugh smart phones suck – I was trying to write more but it’s being moody) anyway, THAT is a framer! GO CALEB!
I can’t like this enough. I definitely needed this after the IEP last week.
Cara, I saw that note….<3 so very sweet and perfect!
Rachel…I can just imagine…we have had some terrible IEP meetings! You know in your heart he belongs…it just means wearing down some of the old school educators. If you ever need any help you know you have an army behind you!
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I know I’m not a parent, but I can totally understand how my aunt and uncle feel now with my cousin Larry who is in high school now. Oh and Melissa I loved the Princess Bride video and the Chicken Man. C is a pretty good artist 🙂
Love love love!
One of Jake’s teachers says, as he tears up, that the other kids in school have gained even more from Jake than he has gained from them. <3
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From Basically FX: For the Parents of Typical Kids http://t.co/TDqDCI4IOw
WE LOVE THE CHICKEN MAN!!! And love this blog post. Thank you for communicating what all of us were thinking <3....Ummmmm, just to clarify....are you calling me a nut job Doomsday Prepper???? I need to be clear on it.
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I am not naming names on the nut job Doomsday Preppers…if the shoe fits, Cindi…(put it on and cover those toes)
Never! Time for flip-flops!!! LOL
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Oh my God, he wrote chicken man! Love this whole thing. I love it hard. Going to FB now to share the bejesus out of it.
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I came to your website after seeing this article in the TMC newsletter this month. I love it! Such an important message – thank you for sharing.
Hi Susan, thank you so much for the kind words and for stopping by!
Just found this gem of a page on the FX Facebook page! Thrilled! Thanks for sharing your stories so that we may all benefit…. 🙂