Special Needs and Inclusion
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Special Needs and Inclusion



whenever I'm talking to staff about an inclusive program I talked about the fact that we when we work in inclusive programs we must hold on to two very clear beliefs in each hand and they're different and one belief is that children are more alike than different children are children first and in the other hand they're holding on to the idea that all children are different and have unique needs one of the aspects of early childhood special education is looking at dispositions loud dispositions are really interpersonal competencies touch the baby skills and those kinds of competencies have to do with openness being warm the ability to listen if you like to try or Christie already how do you problem solve and get another one of these I'm gonna go get it and roll this one too got it oh thank you for bullet back here comes Christie the ability to look at what that child needs as well as the ability to be responsive Frank I'm Christie yeah and another book berry to lead this one and another one baby turn the page another baby but this baby has a spoon so the disposition of being open and understanding that we all learn every day and that's actually the best thing about being in early childhood special education because every day something exciting happens in terms of the child's development and that we all learn from our interactions with children with special needs around or at sea if you're observing in the classrooms you will not be able to tell which children are in our inclusion program and which children are the typical peers we have mixed groups the children rotate groups for small group activity there is a special education teacher and there is a special education assistant in the classroom along with the general education teacher and to general education assistance one of the things for children with disabilities our federal law requires what's called an individualized education plan and as needed the staff will pull both the typical peers and the children with the IEP s aside to work on some skills that need some extra support the itsy-bitsy spider went up the waterspout the type of strategies we use with children with special needs varies child to child not all children have the same IEP goals so if I have a child with the goal that will speak two to three word utterances so what we're going to do is we're going to modify a lesson to elicit that type of behavior down came the rain and washed the spider out our theme was Nursery Rhymes we did have a book that was a part of the curriculum but the concepts were too difficult for some of my children so what we did is we acted out to make it more interesting so a lot of it is mapping and extending language mouthing you want to turn Benjy say yes I want to turn my turn very good okay one two three I tell teacher Andre up go go say go a lot of children that come in have a more significant disability like Down syndrome at Birth they were identified so they've been getting services since they were born with autism intellectual disability Down syndrome there's usually a more significant speech delay it's not just articulation and some receptive it's more maybe they're not using language at all well we need to sharpen the pins on this which are pinned up in Sahaj some of our staff speaks American sign language so we'll try to put them in a classroom where a teacher can sign with the child because a lot of times in their other special day class they're learning some sign I will either and either I will attend a they are coming oh I will attend MA pop is coming mama or use more some visual like a picture schedule so the child can tell us you know I need this or I want this or the teacher can it help explain to the child this is what we're transitioning to now so using a picture schedule if look lunch and then where we go after lunch where do we go outside so one of the things that I encourage administrators and teachers alike is to sit down with families and learn about a child the most important resource for me and that is the parent I come in as a newcomer to this child how you do it how was your weekend let's walk walk oh here we go I get your fingers this family comes in with all of the knowledge they've had all of the experience in many cases they've come in contact with an unbelievable number of professionals doctors and specialists and clinicians so that what what I'm saying is what have you learned what works for your child what do we need to do here and then we begin to form that team and work together and it's not just one meeting it's an ongoing collaboration because things change as we know in all kids development so that we're working together hey you know here you hold on to it and I'll get the door there is no wait-and-see in our collaborative service plan what we're saying is we need to get the right kinds of services to help that child grow and develop and then we need to monitor that growth in an ongoing manner there you go we wrote it say we made it I'm ready to play we talked about the issue of environmental access and adaptive equipment particularly we're talking about children with disabilities we've really seen a shift in the focus of that through the years when I first started in the field that we were talking a lot about specialized equipment and specialized environments what we are talking much more on you here and you look at and you look in the regulations we're talking much more about universal design and universal access the term Universal Design came from Architects in Western Europe it came about about them really seeing how do we meet the needs of all of our population not just for children but for adults as well a universal design we may have some very specialized equipment and I love for children to experience that we're learning about differences we're learning about all of those things that help people function in the world there is nothing quite as much fun for a three-year-old as trying out a wheelchair so how do we begin to create environments that are open and accessible to the broad range of needs of children okay that's nice I like the move it is surprising that how much of what's good for a child with disabilities around access is going to be good for all little kids and so when we look at the way we set up our sand boxes we look away we set up our dramatic play corners when we look at access and room and ability to move in and out that's good for all children this is where I see occupational therapists and physical therapists as unbelievably helpful to come in and analyze your classroom not to say it's around a specific child with a disability but how would can we create a more universe silly accessible environment is this the body or the tail yeah the back the body kind of comes around like this and then you see its little face elephant game let's sit down then elephants sit down sit down elephant head sit down elephant game okay close your samanta we need to rethink our teacher preparation system and many states have really been moving toward more of a merged teacher preparation system between early childhood special education and early childhood general education some states have actually created a conjoined credential can you measure if we're looking at the kind of information that is given to an early childhood special educator most of that is very applicable to improve programs for all children so that I think that we we begin to look at ways that we can analyze that system and see how more of that classwork preparation work can be merged I also think we need more child development in the early childhood special education world when you look at that credential they have so many requirements that they don't take enough child development I know that we have wonderful projects in some of our Cal States where they really are looking at ways that they work more collaboratively with the child development staff at the campus when I was the superintendent of early childhood in LAUSD that my final two years we did all of our professional development was done in a cohesive way and so that our specialists in special education worked with our specialists and Child Development to plan and to present that that kind of professional development down came the rain and washed the spider out we had been doing this program there for six and seven years and the principal there called me with a story and that was one of the teachers came to her and said you know we're not getting the kind of difficult children that we were getting a few years ago in the center and the principal looked around at the children that were there and she said you know what's happened is that because our abilities to serve all children have increased we don't now see those children as difficult children

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