Inclusion by Peter Elliot
That little boy is my son David. This photo was taken 15 years ago. I could see there was something important happening. So I took this photograph. Sometimes you can’t see a really important message until years later. But now it is very obvious. David is just an ordinary little boy who wants to have fun. He is no different from the other children in this photo.
Children do not want to be ‘special’. That ‘special’ label results in parents being overprotective and it becomes an excuse for school systems to refuse our children a place in their school. ‘Special schools’ then get all the difficult kids into one school where they are totally excluded from children who can help them to learn so much more.
Make learning a fun experience. This will work for ALL CHILDREN.
Children learn a lot from each other, and this starts very early in life: “....pre-verbal babies can take home with them what they learn from other babies,” said Andrew Meltzoff, Developmental Psychologist at the University of Washington.
He conducted studies with 128 toddlers, which showed they have a remarkable ability to learn from each other - and; “...what they learn in a group is retained outside of the group setting.” An article on his findings appeared in the July 1999 issue of the Journal of
The key to this learning experience is - INCLUSION.
We are told that our children are “Special”. But all children are special and all children need to have fun and play together. Our children want to play with children in the neighborhood and make friends. They want to be invited to birthday parties and be invited to play with children having fun. They will learn a great deal if you allow this to happen. Look at these children, you can see their brains are working overtime. But one little boy is not included. Do you get the impression he is really interested and wants to make friends?
Children can be of mixed abilities and at various stages in their development. They need not be in school and it is best if adults (and experts) are not involved. Children are not impatient with each other, they are persistent and they investigate and they learn and then they communicate with each other. This kind of learning is remembered because it is fun. Experts believe children invented language. Then taught parents those communication skills thousands of years ago.
Our children have difficulties with memory. This is not their fault. Stress makes matters worse. Information learned at play is stress free and it will be remembered.The human brain has a reward system that kicks in when we are happy and relaxed and this is the key to improved memory and mental abilities.
When we talk about early intervention we should think about what is natural and what has worked for all of human history. This is how INCLUSION works. Special play groups where all the children have Down’s syndrome are unnatural and this is the opposite of inclusion. Our children need friends in the neighborhood they can go to school with. They want acceptance.