Progress has been made. Inclusion has helped students with intellectual disabilities, there is no doubt about it. The highlights have been the realization that students with an ID are able to learn more academic content than was previously thought. It’s also acquainted general education students with people with special needs, which has led to positive social change. There are big wins.

Inclusion has also been very challenging for many, and the problems are not easily remedied. The problems are real, and they are big. Efforts are being made to find better ways to make inclusion work. My hope is for continued efforts to improve inclusion for students who are a good candidate for it.

Lily’s story, which also happens to be Austin’s story…..

We ran into trouble with inclusion when Lily went to Middle School. The general education classes were too difficult. She had a paraprofessional who helped several students, but it wasn’t enough. Lily was bored out of her mind and didn’t want to go to school. This, of course, broke my heart. There was only one self-contained room, and it was focused on life skills. That’s when I knew that more thinking about how to best meet the needs of students who are not in inclusion classes but need more than a Life-skills program.

To put it bluntly

Lily wasn’t able to access general education curriculum in the general education classroom, and it wasn’t being taught in the special education classroom. Her education essentially ended in 5th grade.

Having said that…..

I like to look for solutions. I am very interested in exploring ways to take the very best aspects of inclusion and come up with another option, so that there are more choices available. My idea involves teaching general education topics in special education classrooms and utilizing electives offerings to formalize the process of getting  general education students participating in special education content courses. There are some high schools that are doing this, but I have not seen it done at the Middle School level yet.

Things to think about

  • Shift thinking about IEP goals so that opportunities to teach them in the context of curriculum is utilized.
  • Offer whole group instruction using Specially Designed Instructional practices.
  • Work with the guidance counselor to enroll general education students in your class as an elective in teaching.
  • Lastly, We have created the curriculum you need for this sort of program. (U.S. History, Science, etc.)
  • Here is a training video to see how you can differentiate instruction.
  • It was specifically designed for students with intellectual disabilities. Life skills are embedded in the general education content. Each unit comes with 4 levels of worksheets. When you have a license, you have access to all of the materials and any new ones created for that year.
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