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This website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of my work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.

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Let’s Stay Together!

Posted on March 25, 2011 in Families, Inclusion

Not only a great song by Al Green, but a great motto for families and educators pursuing inclusive schooling. Some of you know I have been working with parents and teachers in my own village to educate the community, provide resources, and build support for one another.

About a year ago, I started a group called OPIN – The Oak Park Inclusion Network (see us on Facebook) and we have sponsored five events:

  • an organizational meeting
  • a book talk and presentation by Patrick Schwarz (From Disability to Possibility)
  • an Inclusive Education Week contest for teachers
  • a needs assessment coffee
  • a presentation by two great advocate-moms from another part of our state

We have only just started but we have big plans for helping our community provide better experiences for all learners in K-12 schools.

In my travels, I have found that it is really hard to create and maintain social change unless you “get together” and “stay together” around the issue of concern. I know that many parent groups exist in this country for certain disability groups or for special education concerns. These groups obviously play a critical role in supporting families and in teaching about advocacy and in sharing resources. My recommendation for communities who really want to move inclusion forward, however, is to either create a sub-group on inclusion in one of your existing organizations or start a new group in your area just around this issue.

I realize that is hard to commit to yet another meeting but I have often noticed that such a group exists in those places where I see a lot of kids successfully included. Here are just a few groups known for their relentless advocacy, creative strategies, and strong membership:

Do you have a strong inclusion group in your area? Is it time to create one?

Comments

  1. From Amy Lazzeretti on 27 Mar 2011

    Paula,
    I have a friend who has a 5 year old child with special ed needs and she wants to present the Inclusion model to her school district. She is not from Oak Park but from a nearby town. Can she still come to the OP meeting? If so when is the next one?

  2. From Paula Kluth on 27 Mar 2011

    Hello Amy. Thank you for visiting my site and posting your comment. OPIN, the group started in Oak Park, is open to (and exists for) everyone in the local area who can attend. If you or your friend are Facebook users, please follow the link provided in my blog post above and “like” our group. All events and gatherings will be publicized through Facebook. I look forward to meeting all new members!

  3. From Audrey on 15 Apr 2011

    Do you know of any groups in the central Illinois area?

  4. From Paula Kluth on 21 Apr 2011

    Hello Audrey,

    The only one I know of is HOIDSA– they are great (this is the group that presented at the event in the photos) but you might also check in with families you know and see if others are interested in starting something!

  5. From Rose-Marie on 20 May 2011

    Paula, do you know of any really great, active online listservs or forums for inclusive education? One of the realities of spec. needs parenting is that time for “group involvement” often comes in the wee hours of the morning when our kids are finally tucked in bed. There was an absolutely incredible inclusion list out of Canada 12 or so years ago…it was a sad, sad day when that group folded. It was made of educators, including many of the leaders in the field at the time, and it was a tremendous support for me as a teacher and parent.

    Since UDL is now so popular (and wasn’t in our vocabulary all those years ago), is that the term I should be using to search for such a listserv?

    While we would like to believe that our system has become inclusive and that we can quit talking about it and working it out, the reality is that the system as a whole has NOT reached the ideals set out years ago…we still have a long way to go to make a complete, systemic change. I am so grateful for your blog and website. Thank you for continuing this life-impacting work!

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