In 2015, the Dept. of Education (ED) teamed up with Health and Human Services Division (HHS) to release a joint policy statement on inclusion in early childhood programs. The document coincided with the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the 40th anniversary of IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as well as the 50th anniversary of the Head Start. The document which basically supports the concept that “… all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.”
It further outlines four key concepts:
- Equal opportunity is a cherished American ideal…to be meaningfully included in a community, and laws such as the ADA and IDEA support this.
- Research indicates that early childhood inclusion benefits all children..those with and without disabilities.
- Additional research indicates that running inclusive early childhood programs is not necessarily more expensive than operating separate programs specifically for children with disabilities.
- Meaningful inclusion can support children with disabilities in reaching their maximum potential resulting in societal gains, including higher productivity in adulthood and fewer resources spent later in life on interventions and public assistance.
As the new school year approaches, we have compiled a few of our favorite resources to support Inclusion:
- The Help on Wheels Inclusion Stool: this gem combines the ease of storage with a caster stool for teachers on the go! Inside includes quick solutions for kids with special needs such as adapted grips and scissors, a seat cushion, and gel fidgets. Plenty of room to customize your kit with other options (not included) including oral motor tools like the Chewy Sampler or a Weighted Lap Pad.
- The Dream Chair: inflatable flocked vinyl sides that give a fidgety or anxious child that just right pressure or squeeze for calming. Makes a great addition to circle time seating options.
- Circle of Education: In the Circle Behavior Health & Early Intervention Module- printed edition. A research based approach to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and promoting healthy behaviors. Includes assessment, coaching and planning tools as well as props (music DVD, emotion cards, and puppets) to support teaching concepts. Great for children on the autism spectrum and/or those with emotional/behavior issues.
- The Buddy Bench: Add this new trend in seating to any space to provide an area that children can go if they are feeling lonely or left out on the playground. This signals other children on the playground that they would like to be included. Features kid friendly letters and graphics.
- Cozy Shades: Some children with special needs are bothered by overhead fluorescent lights which may produce excess glare. Soften a classroom space and add a touch of quiet ambiance with these flame retardant panels.
We hope you will include some of our solutions in your inclusion program. As always, thank you for your continued support for our kiddos with special needs!