Inclusion Support

Do you have concerns about a child or how you are managing yourself, your environments or your staff?

Rebecca can come to observe all the aspects that may impact the success of a child's inclusion and role model on the spot. 

This service is $75 per hour and does not include travel or accomodation.

Modes of care and education for children with disabilities or

developmental delay vary between contexts and have evolved

over the years. ‘Inclusion’ has become a dominate mode of

service delivery in recent times, bringing to mind attitudinal

change in the present day. Whilst we still struggle to define

‘inclusion’, the notion currently asks stakeholders to embrace

human diversity and the right to access and participation in

early educational programs, free of ableism (Cologon, n.d.,

p.6). The right to access education is constituted by law (DDA,

1992) however does this mean that inclusion is the law thus

every child with or without a special need should be enrolled

in mainstream education?

Historically, children with disabilities were viewed as

discomfiture to society. Allen and Cowdery (2012) describe this

as the ‘forget and hide approach’. They continue to suggest

that modes evolved i.e. ‘screen and segregate, ‘identify and

help’ and finally and more recently ‘include and support’.

(Allen and Cowdery, 2012, p.7). Having involvement in many

‘inclusion support programs’, I often hear language such as;

‘you can really help these kids’, ‘…but the children must be

screened for eligibility’, ‘Who should pay for the support?’. I

am beginning to question our understanding of the term

‘inclusion’ and wonder if we are simply led by policy (Corbett

and Slee, 2000 cited in Petriwskyj, 2010).

There are also instances where children were only allowed to

access services for part of the day, due to a ‘lack of resources’

or the child’s needs being ‘too high’ or ‘complex’ to cater for.

Challenging the notion that children who attend services with

disabilities or a delay are not part of a ‘program’ is no mean

feat. Evoking attitudinal change about our current views that

inclusion is an isolated program and needs it to be overseen

separately by a special needs teacher is not a simple task. If we

value diversity as a rich resource, is there any need to see if a

person is eligible to walk through our door and do we need to

‘help’ them? Physical attendance at a service is not inclusion,

the way in which the community interacts, values and supports

the child and family’s full participation is the key (Allen and

Cowdery, 2012, p.5).

Educators and directors alike know the benefits of inclusion however

raise concerns that they will not have the skills or physical resources to

include children with disabilities. This can be a daunting prospect

when barriers such as; the impact on typically developing children and

teacher time and resources consistently reappear on the staff meeting

agenda. Additionally, the ever pressing issue of cost (Allen and

Cowdery, 2012, pp.13-15) and the question of ‘if we allocate funding, will

it even work’. It’s not a matter of if it will work, or if students will get

the ‘help’ they need, it is the law. It is a child’s right to access

participate and belong, to be included as stated in the Convention of

the Rights of Persons with a Disability (CRPD) (Article 24, UN, 2006).

Similarly Petriwskyj’s (2010) study found that teacher’s response to

diversity is evolving and a barrier to change could be the limited access

to in-servicing and professional learning. It seems there is a

willingness to invite children in to services with additional needs,

however willingness to bring about pedagogic change in response to

diversity is surprisingly absent. In my current role as an Early

Childhood Intervention advocate my focus would be to educate and

empower teachers to reflect upon not only interactions with children

but full systemic structural changes could make inclusion an everyday

part of human environment and interactions (Petriwskyj, 2010, p.210).

Finally, I believe every child should have access to regular education,

with inclusion as catalyst for social justice and attitudinal change

(Ashman and Elkins 2005 cited in Petriwskyj, 2010). Inclusion is not a

‘hot word’ or a new teaching strategy, nor is it a mode of service

delivery. As the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) so eloquently

suggests, it is recognising and upholding the rights of the child to feel

safe, secure and most importantly a sense of belonging as an everyday

part of our interactions with ANY human that walks through the door

(Australian Government Department of Education and Workplace

Relations for the Council of Australian Governments [DEEWR], 2009).

In order to promote a culture of inclusion (Cologon, n.d.), we must

empower and inform entire communities about the richness of

diversity not just the benefits of inclusion. Furthermore a shift in

attitude to a place where diversity is embedded in philosophy rather

than perceived as separate ‘practice’ or ‘program’(Allen and Cowdery,

2012, p.3).

Rebecca Thompson

Director Stone & Sprocket

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