Tag Archives: inclusion

walk like an egg-gyptian…

Easter time again so for Mac’s school that means eggs-on-legs, egg-o-ramas as well as the more traditional hat parade.

The benefit of getting two years of “eggs-on-legs” means the ability to ‘recycle’ – we embraced the chance to re-use one of the ‘eggs’ from last year’s walking egg / wheelchair contraption.

Egg-gyption
This year we added an Egyptian pharaoh hat left over from a fancy dress party a couple of weeks ago, some ‘walk like an Egyptian arms’ and covered the blue pants with two pieces of fan folded A4 paper stapled together with some glitter cardboard triangles.  A final flourish of some glittery paper around the eyes and our 2012 egg was now and “EGG-gyptian”.  It was a pretty good pay-off for about 20mins worth of work.

Here’s Mac, Luca and Miss A showing some of the finest eggs-on-legs I’ve ever seen.

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 3.49.55 PM

And a blast from the past… I found this gem of Mac (R) and Luca (L) way back in pre-school circa 2007 when they were gorgeous little four year olds.

MACandLUCA2007

I strongly believe full and authentic inclusion in the pre-school and daycare settings should be the norm for ALL children.  Too many families are buying into the idea that Early Intervention centres are where you go ‘instead of’ pre-school.  Early intervention (the action not the place) is important but not at ‘any cost’… be wary of those claiming early intervention can only happen in a segregated setting – you might just end up on an undesirable path where your child loses their rightful and valued place in their community.   I spoke about this some years back at the Early Childhood Intervention Australia conference… my stance remains unchanged.

Click the folder if you are interested in reading the paper I presented to the conference.Folder-ECIA

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Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!

school swimming carnival and the “mac-stroke”…

You’ll have to excuse the ‘gratuitous self-promotion’ here.

My husband is “numero uno” on the list of ‘amazing people we get to have in our life’ – and he is responsible for the video and the ‘very sweet words’.

Shawn is a phenomenal dad, husband and friend and he is the one who thinks me ‘slipstreaming’ Mac down the pool at a school carnival is awesome…

Me? well… since Mac’s in 4th Grade, I think it’s simply “about time”.

Results for the day saw Mac manage two 2nds and one 6th placing in his swimming carnival events… He did the “mac-stroke”.

The kids were awesome (as always) and cheered for Mac, regardless of house loyalties, revered his results and were busy telling him how ‘good a swimmer’ he is LOL.

SwimmingCarnivalSpectator

Despite what we see on the video with our adult eyes, it seems I am completely invisible to the kids. My being there is of no concern or consequence. Although I did overhear a couple of kids, who obviously did see me, lamenting that their mum didn’t swim with them (cute).

Trying to go slow enough in the off-strokes was the hard bit – we were trying not to “podium” but it was a case of “swim or sink” – so 2nd place it was.  Mac was able to catch my slip-stream so most of the way I was able to kick along without having to touch him.  Obviously the faster the events the better the slipstream.

The neck-float is from Nancy at Waterway Babies – it is a larger size designed for bigger kids with disabilities.  It has proved a great option for us this summer, Mac loves the freedom it provides by being able to be in the pool ‘hands free’.

We did buy a cheap baby size version off Ebay from Hong Kong to test out while we were waiting for this one to arrive.  And, while it was OK, the WaterWay brand is noticeably better quality and a better size offering Mac much more stability and confidence to experiment with moving his body under the water.

What other tips, tricks and ideas do you have to give everyone the option to participate at swimming carnivals?

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Filed under Inclusion... straight up!, the big picture, things that make me go "glll"

the footy draft and the kid who was ‘second pick’…

 

I know there are people who wonder why some of us fight so hard for the philosophy of inclusion to simply be the norm.

Today was a reminder of why we do what we do.  The concept of inclusion isn’t really about Mac, it’s not about me, or us as a family…   it’s for all of us, our entire community, our entire society.  It makes us all better people.

It makes us gooder

According to Mac’s teacher, this is how things went down today…

Friday is sports day and today’s activity was touch footy (touch football/AusTag/flag football/toque de futebol).

Under Mr B’s guidance the team captains get four picks each – then Mr B divvies up the rest to avoid someone being the potential ‘last pick’.

Mr B was absolutely amazed when Mac was the second pick on one of the teams.  He said, “it wasn’t something I expected – but it was awesome to witness”.

It is these little moments that make you realise what great young people we are growing by ensuring they are ALL together, authentically together.  Not as part of a program, or a unit or by special invitation for part of a day, or for certain subjects or by volunteering to be with the ‘special kids’ as a rostered job.

To these kids Mac is just one of them.  Sure, they know he has a disability… they just don’t care.

For the record… Mr B & I both acknowledged we may not have picked Mac if we were captains.  He kind of sucks at touch footy and we are both, clearly, a little bit too competitive and perhaps not as ‘evolved’ as these kids…

As it turned out he played briefly then switched it up to become a touch judge/linesman.

To be honest, I’m not sure what is funnier – Mac playing touch footy in the chariot or Mac being a linesman (bearing in mind his vision impairment).  I guess touch footy at CPS just became a ‘game of chance’.

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Filed under Access all Areas, friends, Inclusion... straight up!, the big picture

in which Tim becomes a teacher…

So the last day of Grade 3 has arrived.  This is Tim’s last day as he has now completed his teaching degree and next year moves onto the local casual rosters with the hope of picking up a full time teaching position in the area.

We always knew we only had the year with Tim in the teacher’s aide role and, while we are sad to see him go, we know there is a bond between he and Mac that will likely stick.  I chuckled when one of the teachers told me about the boys at the class party and how Mac was eating green icing of Tim’s finger…  like it was the most natural thing on earth.

I am really proud of Tim – he has been so open to learning and embracing the mindset we share about disability.  He is going to be a very different teacher to the one he would have been 12 months ago.  It is wonderful to hear him acknowledge those same sentiments.  Tim has established some great opportunities for Mac that I believe will set him up for the remainder of his primary schooling in a very social and engaged way with his peers.

As a farewell gift for him from Mac and the class I had to sneak around to all the kids for them to give me ‘words to describe Tim’ and develop a ‘wordle’ which I then framed for him as a piece of art to hang on his wall.  He was pretty thrilled with his wordle and the kids were blown away seeing their words turned into something so permanent and lasting.

THE WORDLE & THE LADS

TIMwordleframed

TIM&MAClastdayframed

Thank you Tim for the most amazing year.  Mac will be working on learning about text messaging & emailing in 2013, and since he has your details in his iPad I expect you’ll be at the top of his list ;-).

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December 20, 2012 · 11:44 pm

i swear…

 

I checked the battery of the Step by Step Communicator today.

As I pressed it to see if it was working I was thrilled to hear the last recorded message was “put some swear words on it” clearly annunciated by the voice of a nine or 10 year old boy.

So, it appears, the boys have had it out in the playground with them – I am pleased Mac is learning how to be a nine year old boy the right way.

It warms my heart to know he is being taught some inappropriate words by his peers.  And, while not ‘explicit’ in the curriculum documents I have read… I am sure it is implied. 😉

Inclusive Education… what more could you ask for!

 

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Filed under friends, things that make me go "glll"

book week, kurt fearnley and those “guns”…

Book Week 2012 is here.  School has once again gone with a theme… this year “Come as a Champion”.    While I admit,  my book week purist heart would like a straight ‘book character’ theme one of these years, it didn’t deter us from helping Mac find his perfect ‘champion character’.

In a nice stroke of serendipity the Paralympics are also on.  This has created much discussion at school about what event Mac might be able to compete in when he’s old enough.  The suggestion that maybe “sport isn’t his thing” hasn’t really been readily accepted… we’re still working on an acceptable answer. 😉

After throwing up a few options Mac settled on Kurt Fearnley.  For our non-Aussie readers – Kurt is one of THE legends of wheelchair racing and fits the ‘champion’ requirement perfectly.

In another twist the kids have been studying ‘simple machines’ in Science.  I offered Mac the opportunity of ‘bulking up his guns (arms)’ with a bit of “engineering” while sneakily providing some congruency to their recent learning… all in the guise of “dress ups”.  Mac was hooked… we were sorted.

NB: check your volume settings – there is some ‘muzak’ that hopefully won’t blow your ears out.

When it came to the crunch I probably should have sat in on a couple of their classes as my fading knowledge of fulcrums and pivots started making my head hurt.  Thankfully my Dad was a willing  assistant… although his full mechanical spring action metal arm system was soon discarded when I was able to prove my much simpler method would actually suffice.

Mac took the iPhone on stage and one of his classmates pressed the right button in Proloquo2Go for him so he could announce who he was (just as the other kids do).  It was nice to see the young kids at school get exposed to the idea of AAC and Mac’s method of speaking  (it was pretty cute that he got extra applause after he spoke – we really do have a great group of kids at our school).

Here’s some extra pics of the ‘wheelchair racer dude’ in all his glory.

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Filed under Inclusion... straight up!

liver la vida

It’s hard to know how much involvement to have in assignments when your child has no chance of doing it on their own.

A lot of the assignments to date have been more about me teaching Mac the concept of choosing topics, researching and then deciding what to include – I guess this is probably much the same for everyone.

That being said… I wasn’t overly thrilled when he brought home the requirements for his assignment on “organs”.  He had been assigned “the liver” and was to present to the class as if he was ‘the teacher’.

Ugh, the liver, I thought.  How are we going to find age appropriate stuff and avoid the obvious drug, sexually transmitted disease and alcohol damage issues that seem to feature ‘way more prominently’ on the internet than any other.

With some focussed searching we did OK.   We watched some cool videos, found some good websites.  Mac had to decide what he wanted to include in his assignment.  I showed him how to change up the information so it sounded like something he might say.

We decided to go with a Powerpoint presentation so he could progress it with his switches while ‘taking the class’.

We created his own avatar using the WeeMee Avatar Creator app (we like it because it has a wheelchair accessory).

We popped his Avatar into his CrazyTalk 2D animation software so it could speak with his dialogue.

We decided to use the Acapela-Box to download the voice.  We had to pay for some credits to use this despite having his Dynavox.  Thing is the Dynavox doesn’t really ‘hold its own’ for long tracts of speech.  It gets crackly and breaks up a bit too much for our liking.  With Acapela Box we can use the same voice he uses on his Dynavox but with greater clarity and no chance of it failing mid-sentence.

I poked around on the internet and found some pictures, bought some stock images to include and created some of my own elements.  I discussed with Mac what his images might look like, what we could include and importantly made him choose the ‘liver’ image he liked the best.  From memory… I think he over-ruled my first choice for making “liver dude”

Here’s the video version of his Powerpoint presentation
(you’ll need your sound turned on & be sure to read on after you’ve watched it).

THE LIVER by Mac Burns

Did you learn anything new?

Oh, and for those super-observant folk…
Disclaimer: no M&Ms were harmed in the making of this assignment… but, that’s not to say a few weren’t hacked 😉  

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Filed under Accessing the Curriculum