Sunday, October 23, 2011

Messy Mondays - Inclusion

Messy Mondays where I share what God has been showing me through the messiness of life.  It is my personal belief that this walk isn't clean and crisp and straight or narrow.  It's wide and twisted and mucky and messy.  It's about the ups and the downs, but through it all God is there with us.  

This weekend I went to a conference where they talked about inclusion in our school systems and community for people with special needs.  It was great to hear people speaking not just from a intellectual stand point, but also from personal experience.  The keynote speaker spoke on the new initiatives in our province's education system.  She headed up the program and helped write the legislation.  She is also a mom of two boys who are blind.  One was defined in the school system by his disabilities and the other was not.  She has noticed a difference in each of these young men on who has been able to deal with the transition from childhood to adulthood and firmly believes it started with how they were perceived in school.  Because of this, she is passionate to see all children viewed simply as children and encourages learning on a child by child basis and the evaluation process.  As a mom hearing this, I was so encouraged to see that they want to change not just the system but the culture.  To make sure that each child is viewed for themselves and not their disabilities. 

I have seen this change first hand as well.  One of our greatest fears in sending our middleman to school was how he would be perceived by the other students.  Last year in preschool he was viewed as an outsider by the children because he was different.  He struggled to make friends and be accepted by his peers.  This year has been a 180 degree difference.  Middleman is viewed just as everyone else.  He is the same, just different.  He is welcomed by many of peers each morning and he enjoys being in their company.  

It will take along time for our culture to change their attitudes regarding people with special needs.  I need to change my own perceptions as well.  I once spoke with a mother whose daughter had downs syndrome.  She asked us "What is normal?  For all we know, my daughter is normal and we're the ones with the problem."  I think she was right.  We tend as a society to view people with special needs in a negative connotation.  We look at their limitations and not their strengths.  I'm glad that my government is working on changing this attitude in our schools.  I would love to see these prejudices erased by the time middleman transitions into adulthood.

We are all the same, just different.  Simple truth. 

This is a song written by a Canadian singer/song writer/former educator Terry Kelly who is blind.  He wrote it hearing what our government was working on.  I hope you enjoy it.


Jedidja said...

Nice posting. There are children with Down syndrome (and a higher IQ) in a regular classroom here in Holland. But if they have a lower IQ, there are special schools for them. On our school we've two blind childeren.

My autistic son ( 13) is on a 'cluster 4' school. A school for children with autism, ADHD, etc. They have only 8children in the class and two teachers. We are very happy with it. He don't understand the social world, and is much slower than other children from his age.

It is good for our special need children to integrate on ordinary schools, but every person is unique. There also are children who can not.

kendal said...

glad the middleman is having a better year with his peers this year. so important to find what works best for your child. i know a mom who has twins - one autistic, one not. she started the autistic one in school a year later than the other. also, she had some sort of buddy club. she invited a small group of kids to stay after school a few times. they learned about autisim and trent's special needs. they have stuck by him and helped him and loved him from 3rd grade to now (11th grade). i think understanding his special needs from an early age helped so much.

Anonymous said...

I wish more parents got how important it is to see each child as an individual - unique and special in their own way. I try so hard to make sure that all our kiddos are included, but parents really need to take some responsibility and teach their kids to love and accept their peers no matter what their differences are. I really hope and pray my own kids get that!

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Alberta, Canada
I'm a 39 year old (oh yeah I'm telling you my age) Stay at Home mom. A former Bad Girl now reformed sinner, I'm married to my Y2K guy and raising 3 great children from God. Proudly Canadian, however, missing the West Coast, I currently live in the prairies watching the farmers fields produce as I learn how God produces the fruits in me.

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