Tag Archives: inclusive

you know your commitment to inclusion has been worth it when…

Grafitti image of the words Inclusion Rocks.  yellow blue paint on a brown brick wall.

Today, on arriving at school I found out Mac’s aide would be arriving a bit late.  Mac also had a fill in teacher (but one who has been around the school a fair bit).

What I LOVE…
there was NO suggestion I needed to hang around until the aide arrived.

And better still…
when I offered to hang around they reconfirmed that it was ‘totally unnecessary’ so I happily went on my way.  Mac just settled in for roll call with the rest of the class while a couple of kids busied themselves setting up his gear ready to start work.

One of Mac’s IEP goals has always been ‘to become an independent learner with the long term goal of aide support needed only for personal care and not for meeting his education needs’.

It’s one of Mac’s more powerful IEP goals for a number of reasons:

  • It sends a message to Mac that he has a role to play in his own learning and removes the suggestion he “needs an aide” from his world.
  • It shows we have confidence in, and high expectations for, Mac.
  • It helps ensure the teacher takes greater responsibility for Mac’s learning.
  • It provides room for Mac’s peers to really learn how to work with, and advocate for, Mac in the absence of another adult (aide).
  • It allows the aide confidence to constantly strive to become redundant in their role or, at the very least, invisible in their role.
  • And it removes any possibility that threats around ‘withdrawing or reducing aide support’ can be used as a  power play by Principals or education departments.   If that is ever suggested you can simply say “fantastic, a step closer to our IEP goal, what a great opportunity!  What will we need to adjust in the classroom to allow this to work well for the teacher and students?”

A typical school day for Mac has a period of half an hour where where no aide is in the classroom.  During the lunch time period the aide was helping develop and facilitate more inclusive opportunities for Mac which has proven successful and has allowed her to now assist other students who actually need more help with the chaos of the playground instead.

So Mac is on his way in meeting that long term IEP goal… days like today only confirm this.

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Filed under Inclusion... straight up!

‘pig smell’ and why it’s worth fighting for…

I was collecting Mac from the school excursion at the local zoo and was met by Mac and his mate K.

K:  “Mac smells like pig smell” he said in a manner that ‘implied’ I should consider this a good thing.

Cartoon image of a pink pig with flies buzzing around it to insinuate it's stinky.

Image courtesy of cartoon-clipart.com

I admit, I was a teeny bit worried.
Let’s face it – no one wants their kid to be known as “Smelly” or “Stinky Burns” or (deep breath in) “Pig Smell”.

Me:  “Oh, OK then – is that good?” I asked wincing just a tad.

K:   “Yeah! It’s awesome” he confirmed.  “Mac couldn’t reach the pig to pat him so I leant over the fence and patted him then wiped the pig smell on Mac’s hands and arms so he had some too”

Me:  “Yep, you’re right – that’s cool.”

So there you have it…pig patting by proxy, sharing pig smells & including your mate.
Yep, that’s what we fight for.

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Filed under friends, Inclusion... straight up!

the “wee three” at school camp

I could see them scooting along from the other side of the playground, three boys, one pushing Mac in his wheelchair, the other running beside.  There was a look of intent on their faces, they knew where they were headed… I had no such insight.

Across the basketball court, along the path, turn, oops steady the chair, back on the path, down another level, now heading away from me.

It’s too early for lunch, I thought… why are they headed down to the dining hall?

Across the pavement, turn again, sharp right, and then…
straight into the boys toilets.BoysToiletSign

It dawned on me… you know I have never taken Mac into a boys toilet block.  I guess you don’t when a) you are female and b) they aren’t actually accessible.

I chuckled as I thought about the fact there was no hesitation that Mac went with them, the other two (or one… who can be sure) obviously needed to go, so they all went.
I never considered part of Mac having an ordinary and inclusive life would mean going with his mates “to the dunny¹ for a leak².

As they were heading back into the playground Mac’s aide & I walked up to them and said, “we might take Mac to get ready for canoeing and go to the toilet” (adult code for diaper change).

“We just went” was the response by Mac’s mates in unison…

“Did Mac go?” we asked (somewhat bemused).

“Oh, nah, he didn’t, just us” they said flippantly, “alright then” they offered as they gave Mac up to Miss M and scooted back off to where they were going.

I love that they didn’t think twice about Mac being with them, I love they presumed they’d all gone since they were all in there, and I love they weren’t even the slightest bit phased by Mac ‘not going’.  It was more a case of “nah, he didn’t get his act together to go” rather than “OMG how would that even work”.

But, more than anything, I love that by being in amongst his peers Mac learns more age appropriate boy stuff than I could ever teach him.

___________________________

1. dunny: Australian slang term for any toilet/lavatory 
2. leak:  slang for urinating

 

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

K-C

Welcome to the Kindergarten class of 2009 taught by Mrs Collins… henceforth known as “K-C”.

happy day

What a day, what fun, what a blast!

uniforms, school lunch, school bag, wheelchair, seating system, bean bag, change bag, bibs, bandanas, teeny tiny hat…  OK, so maybe a little more “baggage” than the other kids…  

Mac’s amazing friend from ‘Pedagogy at Five’ is in his class along with some good friends from Pre-school.   His School Angels (Teacher’s Aides) are delightful and enthusiastic – there are lots of things to work out  – but I am sure we will get there.

We prepared a Cheat-Sheets-4-School for his Teacher and Aides.

Mac added a 20 min sleep to his day’s curriculum – no one seemed to mind.

All in all it was a good day – looking forward to tomorrow.

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When clapping is your passion… you need friends who can clap

Orientation Day number two was another successful day.  

Again we spared Mac the embarrassment of his parents going with him into the classroom and hired Di, his former aide, to escort him with the other children.

I did the same as the other parents, delivered my child to class, waved goodbye and walked away.  

I know much of this is to create an illusion to the others (parents, children, teachers) that Mac is not “super precious” and “needing excessive care”.  I do it partly for my own selfish reasons to allow my soul the fleeting sense of normality.  But mostly I do it because I can, he is in an appropriate environment and his needs are being catered for – just as they are for the other children.

The feedback was great.  Apparently, the room was full of noise and much frivolity – Mac was beaming from ear to ear.  The children were clapping to some song or game – really, does life get any better?

I know I shouldn’t look at the other children as useful commodities in Mac’s life but… when clapping is your passion, you need friends who can clap.  

Mac can’t clap, his physical impairments are just too great.  

And, why wouldn’t you wan’t to clap for your friend when his response is such joy and adoration for the loud noise you so cleverly make.  

We all like praise, even non-verbal praise is good.  

We all bring strengths and weaknesses to any relationship.  

And so far, it appears, ‘clappers’ and ‘non-clappers’ can exist happily in the same environment with mutual benefit.

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Filed under Preparing for Big School

A fun first Orientation Day

 

got wheels, got friends - who needs more?

got wheels, got friends - who needs more?

 

Who would have thought that a little boy who can’t walk and can’t talk would be such a source of strength to his friends.  That you in your wheelchair is a great place for your friends to hang onto and walk alongside when they are feeling nervous.  That you in your wheelchair is the constant, the familiar, the norm.  That you are their safe haven.

To the children who have never met you before you were an object of their curiosity, but to your friends who were alongside you, playing with you… you were just Mac.  I don’t think it will take long for you to be ‘just Mac’ to all your classmates and in time, your entire school.

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Filed under Preparing for Big School

It’s O Day

Orientation Day is here.  

We have been madly restoring a borrowed wheelchair (thank you “teen legend” SP) to allow this event to happen.

Of course Mac’s ‘real’ chair hasn’t arrived in time for ‘transition to school’ and (although Government officers would beg to differ) we don’t believe it is fair for a five and a half year old boy to have to attend school in a pram.  

So after three days of sewing, padding, clamping, painting, tweaking and taking said child in and out of the seat numerous times – we have it.  A stylish set of wheels but more importantly… a comfortable set of wheels.

We have hired an former aide of Mac’s to go with him to the kids’ sessions.  That way we can attend the adult sessions and he doesn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of his “parents” shadowing him.

His classmates from day care and pre-school will recognise his aide as being a useful appendage in allowing Mac’s inclusion – plus, she is far more personable than a hoist!

Only two hours to go – it’s very exciting.

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