When it comes to educating individuals with special needs, DSAW advocates inclusion as the first option. Special education services come in many different forms, however, schools are required to consider the general education class before any other setting. Here are some tips for schools, teachers, and parents to help with the inclusion process.
• It's important to keep a positive attitude throughout the school. Place values on diversity, be flexible, and practice positive problem-solving with students.
•Teachers should modify assignments when they are too difficult for children with special needs. They should also aim to model respect, as well as encourage friendships in the classroom. The different learning abilities and styles within the class should also be considered. Teachers should teach in a way that allows all children to understand and participate.
•Encourage children to participate in activities where he/she can meet children his/her same age with different abilities. Make sure to support the development of friendships with classmates.
•Provide many opportunities for children with Down syndrome to socialize in a peer group with similar levels of intellectual disability. It is important for children with disabilities to have friends who are similar to them both in and outside of school.
•Similarly, it is good for friendships with non-disabled peers to carry on outside of school. This will help improve understanding and support.
•Keep in mind the power of role models. You want your child to feel that they are part of their community. It will help if they have strong influences who can set good examples and be someone they can look up to.
•Set up meetings with teachers, therapists and others to discuss the goals, expectations, and future placement preferences you want to plan with your child.
•Schedule a Peer Sensitivity Training at your school! DSAW can help teach your child's classmates about what Down syndrome is, what it isn't, and how to be a good friend to someone with Down syndrome.
•Watch our IEP Webinar to learn more about advocating for more inclusion for your child.
•Do the teachers at your school want to learn more about teaching individuals with Down syndrome? They can schedule a teacher in-service to learn the latest techniques.
•Need one-on-one support managing the relationship with your teacher or school district? Contact DSAW-Family Services to set up a Roadmap Session.