Category Archives: Inclusion

The Reason I Jump

The Reason I Jump

This book is a unique memoir written by Naoki Higashida, a thirteen year old boy with Autism. Naoki is unable to use expressive language to communicate however he has developed the skill of using an alphabet grid to construct sentences. His book allows the reader to enter into his world. He formats the book as a series of questions and answers such as “Why are your facial expressions so limited?” and “Is it true you hate being touched?”. Naoki’s answers are personal; however at times he does use the pronoun “we”. I think it is important for the reader to reflect and not generalize as no two children on the Autism Spectrum are alike. Continue reading

A Family’s Letter of Appreciation

Inclusion Poster 18 x 24This morning, Madame Paule Mercier, supervisor at Aladin Childcare Services Inc. – Sainte-Anne showed me the new “Inclusion” poster that Children’s Inclusion Support Services (CISS) created to explain the renaming from “integration” to “inclusion”. Besides liking the great photos of our son Emanuel (as well as our dear friend Elise), the poster and photos really speak to how everyone benefits and is enriched by an inclusive environment. My take is that “integration” implied doing things because one had to do them for legal/political reasons, whereas “inclusion” implies doing things because everybody wins and everybody benefits. Continue reading

You Can’t Say You Can’t Play by Vivian Gussin Paley explores inclusion and how story-telling and role playing in the classroom can encourage learning and positive social change. It is a reminder of how powerful observing, asking the right questions, and listening to the children we care for can be in our effort to create a space that is inviting for all. The author engages with each grade, Kindergarten through Grade 6 to discuss how they feel about the new rule and to wonder together about how to make it work. Continue reading

The Journey of Inclusion

Times have changed from the 1970’s and so has how we include individuals with disabilities. I write as a sister who witnessed how my older sister was a part of these changes. When many children would be attending kindergarten or daycare, I remember accompanying my parents as they went to various places to have my sister tested. Can she speak, listen, comprehend, walk and balance on one foot? Following the assessment, I remember her moving away from home when she was about 5 and half, to go live at Woodlands in British Columbia. When we would pick her up for a family visit, I can recall seeing the padded rooms, people with helmets, some in wheelchairs while I was walking the halls to get to the children’s ward. While at Woodlands, she was taken on a bus out of the institution to attend a special school, which was a rarity at this time. Our father recalls while driving to work catching a glimpse of her, alone on the bus as she went to school.  Continue reading

Involvement and Learning: Children Reclaiming the Environment

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
̶  Benjamin Franklin

As educators, parents, teachers, principals, we all believe we have the answers for children. These may be solutions to behaviours, the environment, what they should wear or how they should play. This construct was not working in our program and as a team; we needed to pay close attention to see what the children were telling us. With a multitude of observations we realized we needed to provide an environment where every child could thrive regardless of age, cognitive ability, or social skills. Based on our observations, we made changes to our transitions and routines, the environment and the global use of inclusive tools which transformed our center into a preschool program where children reclaimed their environment. Continue reading

More Reflections on How Does Learning Happen?

HDLH.jpgAs a RECE and a resource consultant who has worked in the ECE field for more than 30 years, I initially was uninspired by the Ministry of Education’s publication How Does Learning Happen? (HDLH). Weren’t the 4 Foundations (Belonging, Engagement, Well-Being and Expression) just common sense? It was only when I took a second look at the document and the questions it posed that I realized how valuable it could be as the impetus for ongoing reflective practice and discussion among teaching team members in ECE communities. Continue reading

Inclusion — A Cause for Celebration!

2016 marks the completion of the 25th anniversary of Children’s Integration Support Services (CISS). We were not given a road map when our journey for a seamless system of supported inclusion began. As we travelled down the inclusion road, we learnt that change is inevitable and it is up to each of us to grow with each lesson learned. We also understood that it was alright to ask for directions. Our story began with a road trip to the Region of Durham to seek information and ideas from others who had already started their inclusion journey.  Believe it or not, “Google Maps” had not yet been invented so it became a leap of faith, knowing that we all believed in and were committed to a path where full inclusion was possible by working towards supporting the needs of each child, their parents and the early childhood educators and providers.  The inclusion pioneers who had bravely gone before us shared all of their lessons learned on how they achieved their success as well as sharing what roads for us not to go down. We had a strong belief in a vision where ALL children belong.  We knew our journey was going to be positive and possible. Continue reading