Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Inclusion Problem

I believe in inclusion. I think that when it is done right, putting kids with special needs in general education classrooms is so good for everyone. Obviously, full inclusion didn’t work for Jack. That doesn’t mean that inclusion can’t work for Jack. It just means that inclusion done right is really difficult and if it’s not done right, it really isn’t right.

Jack is in a specialized program for kids with a certain kind of autism, but he spends a big chunk of his day with typical kids in general education classrooms. He always has support and he’s been doing pretty well. For the most part, we are really happy that he is where he is and with the people he is with. It’s not a perfect situation, but what is?

Jack had a chorus concert at his school today. He had a tough time at his afternoon concert, but an even harder time at the evening concert, which he wanted to participate in, but couldn’t handle without poking at and bothering the other kids. We ended up leaving after one song. It wasn’t great.

The truth of the whole thing is that this evening, Jack, an autistic child, was put in a stressful, stimulating, pressure-filled situation without supports. I am partly to blame for that. The school carries some blame too. The truth is that I failed to make sure he was taken care of well enough.

I learned a lesson tonight though. I learned that even though the school carries the responsibility to make sure that Jack is supported at school events, I can’t count on that and I have to be the one to make sure he is okay. This is a lesson that I have learned many times.

It’s too late to help Jack with chorus this year; there are no more concerts. That one is on me. That said, Jack is going to be in a similar situation soon. He is participating in his school’s Geo Bowl, which is a geography quiz show-style competition. He is the only autistic kid on his team (as far as I know; I don’t actually have neuropsych reports on the other kids).

I am worried about the Geo Bowl. I am worried about the stimulation and the sensory overload and the need to communicate quickly. I celebrate the inclusion that put him on the team, but I worry about how it will be carried out. I don’t know how to help make sure that the Geo Bowl is inclusion done right.

Jack has wonderful support at his school during the day. But I have to make sure that he is supported in the right way. I can’t fail him again. I wrote about the Geo Bowl for White Knuckle Parenting this week. If you have thoughts about anything that might help him, I would love to hear them. Or if you have calming words, I always like those too.

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