I’ve been wrestling with, fighting for, and wringing my hands over inclusion for a long time now. I have to share this one fabulous example of a great project that Aidan did in English class, dreamed up by his aide who believes in him and has high standards for his learning.
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What is it? Aidan chooses two or three words on his talker and his classmates write or draw in response.
Here’s what I love about this:
- It puts Aidan in the position of “authority” or “expert.” He is choosing the words. This is a moment where he gets to demonstrate that he’s a can do kid.
- It’s an opportunity to use his talker in a collaborative way. I’m always and forever going to love any activity that uses his talker. In this activity he’s using it not to express his wants and needs (which is valid and important) but to give directions to his peers.
- His classmates are engaged. They aren’t just watching Aidan. They need to respond. This is the part of inclusion that many people miss. Some may believe that our kids are an interference or hindrance to other kids learning. I will grant that the kids’ responses were simple, but they did have to think about language in a different way. What can I write about only one word? What could I draw to define this? While most kids drew pictures, one student wrote a most interesting and creative piece about Dr. Love. It’s pure gold.
Inclusion doesn’t always have to be difficult. Sure, it may require time, effort, some accommodation, but our kids deserve it.