In two weeks we will have Sophie's Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting with her new team as she is transitioning from preschool to kindergarten. She will be attending the same neighborhood elementary school as her big brother and will be riding the same bus to school. Sophie will be fully included in a typical kindergarten class with her supports and services pushed into the classroom as much as possible.
Oh yes she will.
If you know me at all, you know that this isn't a question of if, but how. I believe in inclusion for our children with disabilities because it works. It not only benefits the student with an IEP, but it benefits their typically developing peers as well. The laws about educating students with IEPs in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) support an inclusive education in the child's neighborhood school.
Sadly, inclusion doesn't come easily. It's often a battle to make it happen. When it does happen, in order to be successful and not just dumping a kid in a class and calling it a day, the team must work very hard and get creative. It has to be a truly collaborative team effort with the parents working along side the staff. True inclusion is when the student has adequate supports and services provided to help them achieve their maximum potential. Education without these supports is not inclusion and is harmful to the student. It looks different for every child as their needs are varied. Inclusion is not one size fits all and yes it can scare the Hell out of me. ~end soap box rant~
A part of my preparation for the meeting is updating Sophie's Vision Statement. This is designed to give her team members an introduction to Sophie and a clear grasp on our expectations for how her academic life will look. I dropped off copies for her team to review this afternoon. I omitted the name of her school in the blog version for privacy. Have a look if you like.
click to enlarge. photography by Bryan Karl Lathrop, www.BKLPHOTO.com