2Learning Objectives:Understand the benefits of inclusion for typically developing children, children with disabilities and communitiesKnow five educational goals for preschool children regardless of disability statusKnow five levels of adaptation for children with disabilitiesUnderstand how to adapt activities to children’s special needs
3Benefits of Inclusion For typically developing children For children with disabilitiesFor families of typically developing childrenFor families of children with disabilitiesFor the communityWhen most people begin to think about inclusion, they think of it as not being beneficial to anyone, or perhaps as being beneficial only to children with disabilities. Research has shown that there are much broader benefits of inclusion, for all children, for their families, and for the community as a whole.We’ll talk about the benefits to each group individually.
4Benefits for Typically Developing Children Can develop accurate views of individuals with disabilitiesCan develop positive attitudes toward people who are different than they areCan learn about altruistic behavior and feel good about helping othersHave models of people who overcome challengesPerhaps the greatest benefit of inclusion is to typically developing children. Because of frequent self-imposed isolation of families who have a child with a disability, most preschool children have no experience or quite limited experience with children with disabilities. Some of the lessons about tolerance and working together taught in the Peace and Conflict Resolution Curriculum are easier to grasp in the context of a child with noticeable special needs than with another typically developing child. At the same time, these children are most likely culturally very similar to the typically developing children in the classroom. This makes them easier to accept in some ways than a child from another culture.Preschool children love to help. Most like to help their parents and teachers any time they see a way to do that. They also quite naturally help children with special needs, and this gives them good feelings about themselves.
5One of the activities in Module 1 of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Curriculum is to read stories about other cultural groups. There are a few good books that can be used or adapted for use with preschool children that are about children with disabilities. This book, by Lola Schaefer, is one of several she has written for children to help them understand about children with disabilities. Others are about blindness, leg braces, deafness, and autism. There is also an excellent book entitled Don’t Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability by Pat Thomas. Reading some of these books would be a wonderful way to begin to help preschool children appreciate children with special needs.
6Benefits for Children with Disabilities Have same educational opportunities as othersAvoid the negative attitudes of people who have not had contact with disabilitiesLearn social and communication skills with typically developing childrenHave realistic life experiences that prepare them to live in their communityMay develop friendships with typically developing childrenObviously, children with special needs benefit from inclusion. Most of these children are, in many respects, like other children. A child with cerebral palsy, for example, may be typical in terms of intelligence, social interest and social skills, but may have fewer opportunities to develop cognitive and social skills because of limited interaction with more typically developing children.There is no particular advantage to children with special needs to delay their entry into the real world. They will probably experience more interpersonal disappointment and more frustration in learning than the average child, but they will need to have those experiences and learn to cope with them at some point anyway. It is better to start early, and to also expose them to the pleasures of being accepted by some typically developing children.
7Benefits for Families of Typically Developing Children Have opportunities to interact with families of children with disabilities and support themBe better able to teach their children about individual differences and acceptance of people who are different from themLike their preschool children, many families who begin to interact with families who have a child with special needs discover that they have much in common. They find that these other families have a more difficult time than most because of the extra needs for care that their children have. At the same time, they often have a very limited social network.Question: Why would their social networks be limited?(Answers might include their reluctance to expose their children and themselves to rejection and/or ridicule by others, their lack of leisure time due to the extra demands of caring for a child with special needs.)Often when families of typically developing children begin to interact with families whose child has special needs, they find that they can help provide emotional support and perhaps occasional tangible help such as brief periods of child care, that ease the burden for the parents of the child with special needs.
8Benefits for Families of Children with Disabilities Learn about typical development, and notice areas in which their children with disabilities are developing wellReduce sense of isolation from others in their communitiesDevelop relationships with families of typically developing children who can provide them with emotional supportThis is the other side of the coin from the benefit just described for the family of the typically developing child.Additionally, it is sometimes difficult for the parents of a special needs child to recognize the ways in which that child is typical. This is sometimes easier for others to notice, and can help the parents of a special needs child to not be overly protective of their child.
9Benefits for Communities Offers a more affordable way to get children with special needs into a school program at an early ageCan decrease need for special education services throughout the educational lives of children with disabilitiesThere is a community advantage to every child fitting into the same schools and the same programs. Children generally learn better when they are all together, and there is less expense if programs and transportation systems can be the same for everyone.The sooner a child with special needs is integrated into a setting with typically developing children, the more that child will model his/her behavior after the typically developing child (in the areas where s/he can do so), and the more that child can reach his/her potential in all aspects of development.
10Goals of Preschool Education that Apply to All Children Becoming more confident learnersLearning to interact positively with peersLearning to respect others and to celebrate differencesLearning to communicate effectivelyAcquiring and using problem-solving skillsProfessional educators have come to understand that the goals of preschool education and what has been called “school readiness” are not primarily about learning numbers, colors and letters. School readiness is about being able to function well in a group learning situation, which requires children to have respect for each other, a desire to get along with each other, and communication skills. These goals, as well as becoming a confident learner and acquiring problem-solving skills, are universal. Separation of children with special needs is not necessary or helpful in achieving these goals. Ideally, preschool children would be exposed to children with special needs and to teachers with disabilities, who can provide wonderful role models of successful adaptation to disabilities.
11Issues in Selection of Preschools for Inclusion Programs Physical facilityTransportationStaffingFor a preschool to be used for an inclusion program, there needs to be a careful evaluation of the physical facility, addressing issues such as:Wide halls and doorways permitting wheelchair access to classrooms and bathroomsSafety of playground areaStaffing issues:Need for lower child-staff ratiosPossibility of using paid or volunteer aidesSpecialized training in working with children with special needsTransportation issues:Availability of safe and cost-effective transportationProperly adapted vehicles
12Models of Inclusion for Children with Special Needs Full inclusion in class with typically developing childrenPartial inclusion with some individualized instructionSpecialized classroom for children with special needsThere is no clear advantage of one model over the other for meeting the needs of children. The decision about which model is best suited to a preschool depends upon issues such as size of facility, space, number of children with special needs to be served, financial resources, and availability of well-trained staff to meet the needs of children with disabilities.In general, children with special needs benefit from interaction with typically developing children, so that is to be encouraged regardless of model. Children who can not participate in the learning of developmentally typical children may be able to share lunchtime or playground time with them. It is also important to involve children with special needs in field trips, extra-curricular activities and all-school events.
13Five Levels of Adaptations to Children’s Special Needs EnvironmentActivityMaterialsInstructionsAssistanceAdaptations for children with special needs are often divided into five levels of adaptation, which are listed here. Please pay attention to the order of these adaptations. The list begins with environmental strategies, which are considered the least intrusive, and progress down to assistance, which is thought of as the most intrusive. In selecting adaptations to use with a specific child, it is important to think from the top down on this list to make the whole package of adaptations as unintrusive as possible. For example, a child in a wheelchair could be seated at a table by the teacher lifting him/her out of the wheelchair at the doorway and carrying him/her to the table, or the door could be widened and the child seated near the door so that s/he could wheel him/herself into the room independently. The second solution is much less intrusive, and therefore preferable to the first.
14Adaptation: Environment Make seating, materials and activities accessible for all childrenRoom setupAdaptive equipmentPositioning of child in the roomOne basic environmental adaptation is to make walkways and doorways wide enough for easy access for wheel chairs and walkers. Grab bars can be installed in bathrooms and even in classrooms and playgrounds to allow children with motor difficulties to move around more independently.A student with poor eyesight or poor hearing needs to be seated near the blackboard or the teacher. Some children can’t sit up at a table, but can use a tray like the one in this picture. Most of the environmental adaptations just take a simple analysis of the child’s needs and a little creative thinking.
15Adaptation: ActivityConsider whether you need to adjust the following:-- length of time allowed for the activity-- the types of responses required of the childrenThe second level of adaptation is the activity itself. Some children who have difficulty with motor skills may need more time to complete an activity than most children, but can do the activity well if they are given sufficient time. Other children may not be able to make the motor or verbal responses that their teacher has always expected for a particular activity. They might be able to point rather than to say a word, or walk rather than run.Question: What other kinds of adaptations of activities can you think of that might be helpful for a specific kind of special need?This photo is of older children, but I wanted to share it because it shows an adaptation of a game of tug-of-war. It might be difficult for a child in a wheelchair to be part of a team, in which others might trip over the chair and the child can’t effectively pull and guide the chair simultaneously. However, an individual game works perfectly.
16This is a game that was an activity for the Peace and Conflict Resolution Curriculum at the Hobar Preschool. In it, nine hula hoops were scattered on the ground: three red, three blue, and three green. When the teacher called out the name of a color, all the children were to step into a ring of that color as quickly as possible. This was a cooperative game. The children helped each other find a ring of the correct color where there was space for them.Question: How would you adapt this activity if you had a child who was hard of hearing? If you had a child in a wheelchair?(Examples would include children helping a child move to the appropriate circle, having a child in a wheelchair next to the appropriate circle, touching a child within the circle, substituting having the child touch a color rather than moving,)
17Adaptation: Materials Examples:-- making a crayon or pencil larger by wrapping foam or play doh around it-- substituting a hollow ball or a ball made of foam for a regular ballThe third level of adaptation for special needs is materials. I’ve given two examples above. These are not more permanent environmental changes , nor adaptive equipment, which we usually think of as large items such as wheelchairs. Materials are the everyday supplies that are used up and replaced.Question: What other adaptations of materials can you think of?(Examples might include :--giving a child markers rather than crayons if his/her muscle tone is low, so that s/he can write or color without having to press down so hard--using a small paper cutter rather than scissors--pre-cutting shapes for a craft project rather than expecting the child to do it him/herself
18Adaptation: Instructions May be modified by:-- using pictures as well as words-- giving instructions one step at a time rather than all at once-- giving a child with disabilities a “helper”– another child or adult who can repeat instructions as neededThe fourth level of adaptation is the instructions given by the teacher. Often, teachers simply tell the children what they want them to do, and most of the time for most children, this works. For the activities of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Curriculum, which often are at the high end of the complexity the children can handle, it is often better to tell and show rather than simply telling. It is also helpful to break the activity into steps and have the child or group do one step at a time. Finally, a child may be given a helper to repeat instructions and answer simple questions if that is needed.At times classmates can serve as helpers for children with disabilities, and can benefit by feeling good about themselves for helping. It is important that children not take on helper roles that interfere with their own developmental progress.
19This teacher at the Mount of Olives Preschool is helping the children in her class develop a skit in which a group of children work together to fend off a threat (peacefully, of course!). The children are making suggestions for the plot of the skit, and making decisions about who will play which role.Question: Think about doing this activity with a group of children. How could you make the instructions as clear as possible? How could you help the children keep track of the plot? (Pictures on the blackboard would be good.)How would you help the children decide who will play which role, so that they have the experience of cooperative group decision-making?
20Adaptation: Assistance Encourage children to work in pairs, either with individual responses or with a single response for the pairHave the teacher provide special help as needed for the projectThe final, and most intrusive, level of adaptation for children with special needs is direct assistance. This can be as simple as the teacher putting her/his hands on the child’s and guiding the child’s response. Often, however, the child can be paired with a buddy to work together. This takes less of the teacher’s time, and also sets the child with special needs apart less from the other children, especially if the teacher judiciously chooses to pair ALL children for difficult activities. Pairs can either produce individual responses for the activity or one response for the pair. Producing one response for the pair encourages children to negotiate ideas and accommodate to each other’s wishes, which is a prominent theme in Module 2 of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Curriculum.A child with major or multiple special needs may not be able to benefit from these approaches, and the addition of a trained volunteer adult or aide may be necessary for the child to be able to participate as fully as possible. If that is necessary, it is helpful for the aide to assist other children as possible, so that the aide is not seen by any of the children as being there exclusively for the child with special needs.
21This teacher was directly assisting this child in making a paint handprint on a piece of paper. She is employing the hand-over-hand technique, in which she guided the child’s hand onto the paint plate and then onto the paper and pressed the child’s fingers down with her own.Question: Why did we want to consider other adaptations before direct assistance?(Because they are less intrusive.)
22Adapting Activities to Children’s Special Needs Break down the activity into steps.Think about what steps the child with special needs can do, and what steps will need to be modified.Determine the best modifications based on least intrusive means.Notice how the child does with the modifications, so that you can use this information for other activities.Another strategy for helping think through what adaptations a child with special needs may require for a particular activity is to break the activity down into steps, think about which steps the child can do without adaptation and which will need adaptation, and plan for the adaptations that will be required.When you work with the same child over time, this becomes fairly automatic, and it is important to pay attention to the child’s response to the adaptations to determine which are most comfortable for the child while achieving the goal of the activity.
23As an example, suppose you are going to give children a paper with a sheep drawn on it, and you want them to produce something like this, by coloring the sheep and cutting and pasting lambs’ fleece on it. One of the children in your class is developmentally delayed, functioning at the level of a 2-year-old.Go through the five types of adaptations (environment, activity, materials, instruction and assistance) and think about how you would help this child complete the activity.(This would be a great task to have people work in groups of 2-4 and report back to the larger group. You would want to point out that there are several ways to go about this. The only one set in stone is that a child functioning at a 2-year-old level should not have scissors without direct supervision!)Thinking about these five types of adaptations should be part of the teacher’s preparation for every activity if there is a child with special needs in the class.
24Two Views of the Classroom Some teachers think of their class as a group in which all children are expected to conform to the whole.Other teachers think of their class as a group of individuals, each with their own personalities, skills and needs.Teachers who think the second way have more success with inclusion.Some cultures value everyone fitting into the group and doing things in the same ways. Other cultures place more emphasis on individual expression. These value differences are reflected in teachers’ approaches to their preschool classes.Question: Why do you think teachers who think the second way have more success with inclusion?Question: How does each of these views of the classroom relate to the goals of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Curriculum?
25Celebrate Differences! This is the principle that makes the second group do well. For them, it isn’t just the children with special needs who need adaptations. Every child needs them from time to time, and to help children learn up to their potential and to be eager learners, it is important to recognize those needs and accommodate them as best we can in the classroom.