I recently did a presentation and shared with the audience stories of our successes and the challenges we have experienced while mainstreaming our daughter with special needs. She attends a local mainstream school and is now in Year 5 and absolutely loves school, has a great group of friends and could not be happier.
I would like to share with you some of the reasons why we decided to send her to a local mainstream school. Our daughter has complex needs including fine motor and gross motor, incontinence, she is predominately non verbal as she has severe verbal dyspraxia. She only has about 15 words which we call survival words included Mum, Dad, yes, no etc which can get her a long way. She also uses Key Word Signing and an iPad with an App called Touchchat. So she has a lot of labels.
Before I start I just want to say labels are needed to get a child the funding, help and assistance they need to make their school life enjoyable and easier. The labels are not the child. Don’t get too overwhelmed by labels just accept them as part of the process.
Some of the reasons I covered in my presentation for mainstreaming our daughter are:
- The school community is a part of the larger community that she is going to have to live in. We sent her not just for a formal education but for a social education.
She would learn the rules and expectations of society. It would be a more strict and structured environment, which we knew she would benefit from.
Before starting school we had a great team behind us including Early Intervention, Preschool, OT, Physio, Speech Therapist, paediatrican that all assessed her and all advised they also believed this was the best place for her. This helped us make our decision as it took some of the pressure of us.
- We believed it was the best place for her to be if we were to allow her to reach her full potential whatever that may be.
I am a passionate believer in the inclusion of special needs children into the mainstream schooling system. I believe this should be the first option for a child starting school unless there is medical or other evidence to support otherwise. It is their right to be a part of society including schooling and this will in turn assist in their future success in integration with society when they leave school with housing, employment and life skills.
I will post some of our success stories in the next couple of days.
Share your thoughts.