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Inclusion Column

One of the greatest lessons as an Inclusion Assistant has been how inclusive education benefits all of us. If we believe in the idea that every student can learn and grow, inclusion makes it possible for every student to receive what she or he needs to develop their skills to the fullest.

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Last week the ASFM community celebrated Inclusion Week. It was a celebration of growth, learnings, and progress. The whole ASFM community was invited to participate and the response was overwhelming. The atmosphere felt energized, and our school was brimming with kindness.

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When we hear the word Inclusion, we might think about embracing differences. However, it is much more than that. Inclusion really means to appreciate each other’s accomplishments and strengths in order to build a unified team or community, honoring each other’s differences.

Read More about Inclusion is in your Hands

This is the title of an article written by Geraldine Panelli (2019). In this article, she talks about the discomfort that she felt since she was a child whenever she saw evidence of discrimination, lack of empathy, selfishness and the need to judge others. This discomfort moved her to become better informed and curious about the things she didn’t understand.

Read More about What if we live without Judging?

t wasn’t always this way, but now these are phrases I often hear from my students.
I can recall the first week of school: questions, uneasy reactions, and struggles to adapt to certain behaviors while they first got to know each other. But there has been such a behavioral shift! Today, these students have learned to be caring, empathetic, accepting, and loving with friends who look, communicate, and act differently from what they'd known before in their short lives.

Read More about Peers in Inclusive Environments

Part of the wonderful discussions that came out of the Open and Caring Inclusion Night for Parents, was the repeated question of what to say to our own children when a child in their class displays needs or behaviors that are visibly different. This article hopes to address that question.

Read More about What Should I Tell My Child?

Neuroplasticity is a change in the nervous system’s function and structure. Is the ability of the brain to adapt, make changes and work in a different way by connecting or creating new routes to neurons.

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Grit is not giving up or giving in. Grit is to follow your dreams despite obstacles, until they come true. Nowadays, our children live a life that’s regularly punctuated by grades, scores, and how talented they are. Expectations are somewhat above what human beings can possibly achieve. But talent alone will not actually make your dreams come true. Grit turns dreams into a reality.

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“We should be more like children,” was a recurrent comment on a video by CBeebies, BBC children’s network, recently gone viral. The video features children, whose differences are obvious to the viewer, responding to what makes them different from each other. It is heartwarming to watch children overlook noticeable differences such as height, gender, race or disabilities, think for a while and then discuss food preferences, toe size, position on the soccer field, or whether squirrels live on their roofs. Is it that children are blind to differences?

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Have you ever asked yourself what would be the best gift you could give your child? The most common route to go is with what we might call the obvious...the best education, many wonderful vacations, making sure they have all they need in regards to trends (technology, video games, the newest and most beautiful toys), and off course, love. It is amazing how, as parents, we go around trying so hard to make our children happy. But what does that really mean?

Read More about Inclusion… An Unexpected Gift

When you think of autism, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, what comes to your mind? What are we focusing on? Do we focus on the negative aspects of the disorders or the beautiful characteristics that these students possess? Let’s be honest, struggles and difficulties are real but instead of focusing on that, let's appreciate the positive. All of our kids have too much to offer.

Read More about The Positive Side of Common Disabilities

At ASFM, we are proud to say we are inclusive. Being inclusive primarily means that we demonstrate an attitude that allows us to understand the uniqueness of each individual and their right to an education.

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There is a recent boom about positive thoughts, positive messages, and positive psychology in general. Some people agree and actually try to apply this everyday , following these messages, activities, and guidelines that society comes up with (yoga, mindfulness, fitness…). In social terms, we know some agreements that work as a foundation to promote positive social interactions. One of these agreements is to presume good intentions.

Read More about Presuming competence: Assuming ability!

When I first heard the term Social Model of Disability I first had to understand what a Model of Disability was. The Michigan Disability Rights Coalition defines it as a tool for defining impairment and providing a basis upon which government and society can devise strategies for meeting the needs of disabled people.

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“Inclusion” it is not placing students with disabilities or special needs in a general education classroom. INCLUSION means being able to adapt, incorporate, modify, accommodate and support, as a school community, all the individual needs of every child. This not only benefits students with disabilities , it also creates an environment in which ALL students, parents, and teachers have the opportunity to grow and learn from each other.

Read More about What is Inclusion?

My inclusion story is about belonging. As a new family from another country coming to ASFM a couple of years ago, we were so nervous. My husband and I worried over whether our children would make friends, even with their cultural differences.

Read More about Belonging at ASFM

Inclusion is a way of living, acting, relating, interacting and thinking about others. Inclusion comes from a mindset that empathizes with different needs. It is accepting others the way they are by supporting and tolerating their differences. Those great differences that make us special and unique. What valuable and incredible words: SPECIAL and UNIQUE.

Read More about We All Benefit from Inclusion

A key message I have always believed in is that the language we use to express ourselves shapes our own reality. Our words reflect our attitudes, which in turn, shape our actions. As we become more inclusive at ASFM, we must remember that the language we use has to reflect this.

Read More about People First Language