My son does not receive what many would consider an inclusive education. Those who subscribe to the philosophy that all children benefit from learning in a mainstream classroom would be horrified to learn that my son receives his individualized, ABA based instruction outside the classroom in individual environments in the local high school. He also begins and ends his day and spends time in a resource center with other children with challenges and interacts with other students to the best of his limited abilities in the common areas.
When Conor began school he started in the mainstream classroom and came home each day with bite marks on his hands and wrists. That self injurious behavior declined substantially and has been almost non existent in the years between then and his first year in high school last year. For Conor the individualized learning area working with an autism trained education assistant and interacting with other students in the resource center and in other common areas of the school represent real, evidence based inclusion. This is the inclusion that works for my son and the evidence is crystal clear.
It would be nice if the ideologues who insist that all children must be educated in the mainstream classroom would break free of their ideological chains and look at the evidence. Some children require individualized learning environments for all or part of their day. When learning is provided based on what works best for the child that is real inclusive education.
Summer is tough for Conor. He looks forward to going back to school, to Leo Hayes High School, and talks about school on a frequent basis. One of the things we do to provide encouragement is to just ask him each day "how many days until school". Conor provides the answer and in doing so feels better by knowing he will be going back sooner with each passing day. Today Conor's answer was "40 days until school". I am sure he felt better than yesterday when the answer was 41. Conor loves school, he loves a real, evidence based learning experience.
To paraphrase one of autistic children's greatest friends, Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas, Conor is being taught in the way he can learn and part of the proof is in his eagerness to get back to school. The way Conor learns is in an evidence based inclusive education that accommodates his learning needs and autism based challenges.