Final Thoughts on Inclusion

My final thoughts on inclusion are not very different from my firsts thoughts on the subject.  I still believe that all students should be included in a classroom with their peers and feel as normal as they can.  However, for some students with severe disabilities I do not think inclusion is a good idea. My observation just enhanced my view rather than differing it.  I observed students with severe ASD and with severe behavioral problems.  It was obvious to me that these students would not succeed with inclusion.  Talking to some of the teachers and volunteers that work in the Shafer Center, they talked about the fact that most children in that center would not benefit in a normal classroom set up.  These students with severe ASD and other disabilities, can not get the individualized attention they will need to be successful in a normal classroom. As I said before, I still believe that inclusion is great for some students, just not all students. If a teacher can research on her students particular disability and do his or her best to incorporate what they know about that students disability into the classroom, then I feel that inclusion can be successful as well as the student. 

Three strategies that would help general educators create a successful inclusive classroom are: Co-teaching, accommodations and modifications, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

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I observed the Shafer Center in Reisterstown, MD on October 21st. I went into the Shafer Center a little bit nervous.  I was there for five hours and observed three different classrooms.  The first classroom I observed was “Dream 1.” In that classroom there were six students, all boys ages five through seven.  There was one teacher for that classroom and about six other helpers.  With six helpers, each student got his own adult to guide him through the lessons and activities for the day.  The classroom was very busy.  Without being told, I quickly learned that the particular room I was in was for the students with the most behavior problems.  There were people coming in and out, and other teachers grabbing students out of the classroom and then bringing them back.  The students and the helpers barely even noticed I was there with all the craziness that had been going on.

I then went on to observe the “Believe 1” classroom.   That classroom had three children, again all boys.  The classroom had a teacher and three helpers, each focusing their attention on that particular student.  This classroom was a bit more mellow than the previous classroom.  The students were more focused on what was being taught, with the exception of one boy who was fascinated with me being in the classroom. This classroom was learning the G sound “ga”.

Finally, I went to “Believe 2”.  This classroom had four boys.  There was one teacher and then about four or five helpers.  By this time I was basically seeing the same thing as the other two classrooms, but these students were focused on math.  There were different students learning at different levels so there were two groups learning in different ways with different activities.  

In these classes I saw many sensory things happening that we have learned in class.  Students in the first classroom were given a sensory break where they were to stand in a line around the desks and told by a recorded cd with music, what to do.  The CD would tell them to run,skip, gallop, jump, or walk around.  The students really enjoyed it.  Another teacher also came in and did an activity with them where a student would sit in a bucket and another student would spin him around while the whole class sang a song that led the person in the bucket to ask each of his friends how they were doing that day.  The students loved it and each wanted a turn.  Another thing I observed having to do with sensory was that they would always needed to be touch on the hand or shoulder an order to get their attention or to praise or to give them direction.  Almost every time they were spoken to, an adult would touch their hand or shoulder. The third classroom, there was a student who was either sick or was going through something very stressful that day (the teachers could not tell), but I saw that they gave him a sensory blanket to wrap around him when he started to cry. It really helped him calm down.

Everyone that worked there was so enthused about their job.  There was even a mother of one of the previous students at the Shafer Center that was a volunteer there. While I was in the first classroom with all the screaming and unfocused children, I was getting stressed out for the teacher.  She was talking and no one was listening.  She would have to stop multiple times to get someone to raise their hand or to pay attention, but she had a smile on her face the entire time.

I really enjoyed my time at the Shafer Center.  I went in there not knowing what to expect and came out with a sense of excitement and respect for everyone that worked there.  The teachers at the center were all great. There was not one that I saw that was overly stressed or angry about any of the students at the center.  The students were amazing, too.  Although, diagnosed with the same disability, each one had their own unique twist to their disability.  

Blog Reflection #3

  http://www.wantapeanut.com              

 This blog is titled, “Anybody Want A Peanut?”  The authors name is Jennie and in this blog she discusses what life is like raising a preschooler on the autism spectrum.  She has a son who in the blog goes by the alias, Moe.  Moe is six years old and in 2009 he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of two.  Moe uses sign language since he does not use any verbal communication.  Jennie has another child whom goes by, Jelly.  Jelly does not have autism spectrum disorder and her age is not given, but by the looks of it, she is younger than her brother Moe.  Another character in this blog is Jennies husband, Jeff. Not much information is given on  Jeff except that he is an engineer.  When Moe was about 15 months, his parents noticed that he was not talking, he would say a couple words but he was very inconsistent with them.  When Moe wouldn’t respond to his name, that became a red flag for Jennie and Jeff and that is when they took him to see a doctor. Also, Moe would become fixated on things such as opening up a sliding glass door.

                I really like this blog, for the content and also how she presents it.  The title is great and the theme and colors go along with the title.  Jennie posts stories about her life and experiences having a child with ASD so that maybe other moms and dads can relate to her.  She is funny but she can also be serious and heart felt in her posts.  She tries to make her blog posts as relatable as she possibly can. She also posts resources of websites for other parents to view and learn about having a child with ASD.  Jennie will posts book reviews of books she has read dealing with autism and other special needs.

                I really enjoyed reading this blog.  She seemed like a typical mom dealing with a not so typical child.  I like that she has an “about me” page for the readers to few that gives them a quick first glance at her and her family.  That way the reader already feels a little bit like they knows these people and they can relate right off the bat.  There was not much I didn’t like about this blog except that maybe they could use more pictures?

                Jennie discusses a lot about Moe not being able to verbally communicate so I decided to look up some websites that discuss how to help your ASD child communicate verbally:

http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/03/19/seven-ways-help-your-nonverbal-child-speak

This website discusses 7 ways you can help your child start to verbally communicate.

I would recommend this blog to families with children of the autism spectrum.  As I said before, she is very relatable and approachable and I enjoyed reading her posts.  

Blog Reflection #2: COMMUNICATION Experience

There were parts of my silence experiment that were difficult.  I went home for the weekend and decided to perform my experiment there since my family absolutely loves to talk.  I started in the middle of the day when we went out to the town and ran errands.  At first my family had no warning.  My father became frustrated.  I wanted to see how they would react if all of the sudden I stopped speaking.  My dad thought he or my mother had done something that upset me.  We were looking for furniture for my apartment and I would just point and smile at things.  My dad would ask my mom if I told her what was wrong. She had no idea what was going on either.  It was kind of funny.  I did not have any paper on hand so I used my phone to text them what was going on.  They laughed for a moment.  It was difficult when a stranger in the store tried to ask me something or make a conversation with me.  I did not want to look like a jerk that was blowing them off and I did not know any bit of sign language, so it is not like they could see me making signs and understand that I could not speak.  My little sister saw this as the perfect opportunity to get what she wanted, “Bailey, dont say anything if I can play with your phone.” That was a tough one to get out of.  I was with my family out shopping for a little over two hours.  I kept this going until we got home.  I did try not to communicate with my dogs. The hardest part of that was when they were jumping all over me and I could not say “get down”, instead I had to run and that just made them even more excited. I used my hands and facial expressions for most things, trying not to text them.  However, hand movement did not work all the time and I had to resort to texting. 

Communicating silently was definitely a challenge.  I have never been able to give anyone the silent treatment that lasts longer than 20 minutes, if even that long.  I am a very talkative person and this was difficult.  Trying not to use technology was hard.  There were times when my parents and siblings would even get frustrated with me for not being able to speak.  The hardest part was communicating with strangers.  They had no idea why I could not speak to them and I probably looked rude, or like an idiot when trying to get my words across without speaking and unfamiliar hand gestures.

I definitely have a greater appreciation for people who cannot speak.  I only spent a little over two hours without speaking and that became difficult.  I can not imagine going your whole life without it.  In some cases people were able to speak at one time and are no longer able to.  I can not imagine opening my mouth and have nothing but air come out.  Just typing about this right now makes me feel the need to speak.  Communication is what gets everyone through life.  It is so nice that along with sign language this world has the technology to communicate with others so easily, through phones, texting, paper, dry erase boards, chalk boards, etc. 

Blog Reflection #1: Initial Thoughts on INCLUSION

Inclusion is making everyone, no matter what disability or handicap he or she may have, feel just life everyone else.  I believe that the concept of inclusion is a wonderful idea.  I believe that including a child with a disability can give that child the fulfillment of feeling “normal” in a classroom full of his peers. However, I  do not think it works all the time.  Some students with disabilities need more help in the classroom than others.  A teacher that is teaching 20-30 children in the classroom cannot always give that student individual attention.  However, certain subjects such as, gym time, art, music, or recess would be easier to use inclusion. 

I think all students can be included in a classroom to a certain extent.  Some students with severe disabilities may not be able to learn the same way as all the other students but, they can benefit from the interaction and involvement in the classroom setting with all their peers.  Inclusion can be unsuccessful because not all teachers are able to provide the individual attention that students with disabilities need.  If another teacher or helper came into the classroom that is experienced with the students certain disability then I feel as if inclusion can be very successful.  I also think that teachers in the general education classroom that are not specialized with students with disabilities can help those students by researching and maybe studying her students disability so that he or she can be successful in the classroom as well as the teacher.

 

I found this website defining and focusing on the benefits of inclusion to be interesting:

http://www.kidstogether.org/inclusion.htm

This website gives great information on the topic, also giving other resources for information on inclusion.