The Bottom Line
By Mary A. Falvey; 167 pages. Subtitle: Helping Children Achieve Their Potential in School
When it comes to inclusion, Falvey is a true believer, convinced that children with disabilities can and must learn with their non-disabled peers. She makes a compelling case, and it's gratifying to read a book that's so relentlessly upbeat about our children's abilities. If your district has made a true commitment to inclusion, this will be an invaluable resource. If not, it may just break your heart.
- Positive and upbeat about students with special needs and their potential.
- Gives blueprint for ideal inclusion program.
- Full of sample documents and outlines for sharing with schools.
- Suggests curriculum modifications and ways to get kids involved socially.
- Will fill anyone who believes in inclusion with hope and conviction.
- Will fill anyone whose real world is not so rosy with "buts" and "if onlys."
- Does not allow for any situations in which inclusion might not be ideal.
- Assumes more good will on the part of classmates and communities than many families will find.
- More focused on kids with intellectual disabilities than behavioral disabilities.
- Acknowledges no legitimate difference of opinion on these issues.
- Chapter 1: Celebrating Abilities
- Chapter 2: Federal Laws and Court Rulings
- Chapter 3: Age-Related Services and Supports
- Chapter 4: Friendship Development
- Chapter 5: Assessment and Curriculum Modifications
- Chapter 6: Problem Solving and Collaboration
- Chapter 7: Transition to Adult Life
Guide Review - Book Review: Believe in My Child with Special Needs!
I'll admit right off that I have reservations about inclusion, at least for my son with fetal alcohol effects. I'm not convinced that children who need a high degree of structure to be safe will ever be well-served in a larger, regular education classroom -- or that the amount of effort, staffing and equipment that would be necessary to even try it wouldn't be better spent elsewhere. One approach is never going to be right for all kids, and that's what individualized education is supposed to be all about.
Still, there's a lot to be said for inclusion, and this book says it all. Children in self-contained classes don't progress academically with as much urgency as they do in inclusion. Being part of the community, having a variety of role models, interacting with people, learning in a varied and stimulating environment -- these are all undeniably good things for children with special needs. Special education is often not very "special," and an enthusiastic, well-thought-out, strenuously supervised and efficiently run inclusion program could well change that.
A world where such classes are universally available to all special education children who would benefit from them is a nice world to dream about. Undoubtedly it exists in some areas, and may, with the hard work of parent advocates like Falvey, come to exist in many more. As long as they don't insist there's one way and one way only for all children to achieve their potential, well, more power to them.