Our reasons for mainstreaming our special needs child

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.

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3 thoughts on “Our reasons for mainstreaming our special needs child

  1. Hello, I really enjoyed reading this post. My mother is a special needs assistant in a mainstream school and I think it is absolutely correct to mainstream your daughter for her benefit. However, the schools are beginning to show some worrying areas. “Time out” cards now issued to every student. I think it has been done to create more normality around the special needs children. So if they need to leave the class, the other students can’t complain about why they can’t. I would really appreciate your thoughts on my post. http://thepowerbattle.wordpress.com/ Many thanks, Sophie

    • Thank you Sophie. As a result of having my daughter and wanting to share my experiences and knowledge I also became a special needs assistant in a mainstream school. I totally agree with your comments in relation to “time out” cards etc. Schools are trying very hard to do what they think is right by making rules for ALL children the same (time out cards) but I don’t necessarily believe this is the correct way of dealing with children.

      I think children need to understand and accept that everyone has different needs. Some have food allergies, some need “time out”, some have discipline problems, some need chew toys in the classroom and I believe that most children learn to accept these differences if we just explain the circumstances to them.

      I have worked with a number of students that need chew toys. At first the other children ask why and when I explain that it is just something they need to help them concentrate the children just accept it. After a while no one in the class even notices that the child has it.

      I believe schools shouldn’t eliminate nuts in the form of peanut butter etc unless there are extreme cases of allergy at the school as these children need to learn about there allergies and learn to live with them in the community. Once they start working they are not going to be able to eliminate these from the workplace. I have experience with this as my daughter is on a strict life long diet. We were given the option to either eliminate foods completely from our families diet or live with them and teach her what she can and can not eat. We did the later and she is a lot better for it. Even with her other disabilities she is fully aware of her diet and is very strict. She will not eat anything unless she is certain it is ok.

      I have children that need “time out” in the form of a run or walk or to leave and get a drink. They come up to me or the teacher and explain or give us their card that has been prepared from home or specialist. They are then allowed to leave. If another student asks why I tell them that it doesn’t concern them or just explain they need a break. And most of them just accept this.

      In reality once we leave school and go into the workplace people do get treated different and the sooner children learn this and learn to accept and tolerate differences the better society will be.

      I would love for you to let me know what you think about my reply.

      • I appreciate your response and agree and respect the points you made. It sounds like your daughter is very wise with her diet and has learnt from you. It is clear there is no negoiating her diet, and she understands the limits of it. Do you think there should be negotiation between parents and children on ther matters at any point? For example in my blog http://thepowerbattle.wordpress.com/ When the child wants more responsibility to go out etc?
        The chew toys point is an interesting one. I think with other students challenging this and other things, it relates to fearing the unknown. We fear and naturally guards go up when something strange or unknown is facing us. Once we have more understanding around a matter, the conflict will decline. I like to relate this to the work place, a new team or manager or project may seem daunting and fearful. However, once more understaning is in place, the fear becomes less and involement becomes more.

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