A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How I realized Little Bird is the cool kid

A few months ago I wrote a post called Inclusion: For Her or For Me? about fighting so hard for Little Bird to be in an inclusion program at school. Inclusion can be great, and a self-contained classroom can be great, too. It ALL depends on the kid, the teacher, the kids in the class. One size does NOT fit all. For last year (pre-K) and this year (kindergarten), I chose to put Little Bird in a full inclusion program with one one one support. Back in October, when I wrote that post, I was wondering if it was the right decision for us. Truthfully, LB can't function at the same level as the other (all typical) kids and certainly can't learn the same way they do. Sure, she can read and spell better than many of them, but they're doing double digit math and I can't get her to repeat after me, "1+1=2". Of course she's not going to be like the other kids, she's.... different. But for the social piece, I've been reminded again and again that this was the right choice. 


Yesterday was the birthday party of a little boy in her class. We've never seen this kid socially- no play dates or anything. He's just a boy in the class of 10 kids. We got there late because LB had therapy. When we walked in, all the kids were sitting down to eat pizza (thank gd I'd just given her enzymes because I knew she'd fight for a piece of that gluten-y deliciousness. I took off the cheese.), and the birthday boy saw her and shouted, "{Little Bird's} here!!! I wanna sit next to Little Bird!" What?? This is his birthday party and he wants to sit next to the bird?! Whoa! She really is a cool kid. And, yet, some of these kids might not have even been exposed to a kid with special needs if not for awesome programs like the one she's in. It's a private school at our local JCC. What's so sad is that most of the private schools will not accept a kid with any "issues". They say they don't have the resources. We all know this is a choice because they seem to have the resources to provide a large amount of financial aid to the families of "typical" kids. Our kids end up with no choice but to go to the public schools where often times there are not nearly enough opportunities for inclusion and certainly not enough support staff to shadow our kids during inclusion programming. Our kids get the shaft.


But, see, it's not just the kids with special needs who benefit from an inclusion program. I'm writing this on the day we commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. who knew he'd die fighting for equal rights and for his dream that all people would be judged based on the content of their character. And, see, that's what's happening in inclusion classrooms everyday. These kids love my kid. They don't care that she flaps her arms, doesn't talk much, or keeps her fingers in her ears. They see her for the sweet smile she offers, the giggle she gives when she's tickled; they're often envious that she can read as well as she can, and they know she loves books. This morning I stayed with her during a ceremony they have each Monday, welcoming the new week (havdallah). When we walked in, a little girl called out, "{LB} sit next to me." The bird went right over, silently. Then this little girl bragged to another kid in the class, "{Little Bird} loves me and she is my friend." These kids are learning to accept all kinds of people into their worlds and will become better people because of that. 


So, I just answered my own question. The inclusion?? It's for her. It's for me. It's for all of them. 


The bird and the birthday boy


14 comments:

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Lovely post Dani G!

Brandi said...

This brought tears to my eyes. How encouraging! What a great group of kids you have found for Little Bird!

Piscesgirl said...

YES! I bet you must have been like "thats right, that is my girl!" I know you are proud. Thanks for giving us bloggo friends a chance to be proud of your bird too! :)

My name is Erin. said...

Oh, Dani, that's awesome! I'm so proud of both you and your Little Bird.

Christine Harling said...

I love this! :)
We don't have experience with school yet, but I see the positive impact Sam has on my older kids and their friends.

Jessica said...

Couldn't agree more, I have had many parents tell me that their kids are learning more from my daughter than she is learning from them. Yay, Little Bird and inclusion!

JennieB said...

Some of the schools around here have programs where older kids are buddies to younger kids with various disabilities, including autism. Everyone benefits.

My son isn't ready for inclusion yet, but we'll definitely push for it when it's time. I'm so glad they love LB! But not suprised of course :)

Cheryl D. said...

Really lovely post! I'm sure hearing the kids want to hang with LB makes you feel so proud!

Kathy said...

I was holding it together until I saw the picture. What a beautiful post.

sugarmagnolia70 said...

LOVE IT! My dd is also in an inclusion program and the kids adore her too. I agree--inclusion helps everyone, typical and...different.

Lynn said...

Awesome post! So cool that the kids love her so much and want to be her friend. I think the skinny jeans might have something to do with it too...

sherri said...

dude. i'm tearing up here. as in boohoo not tearing a piece of paper, that'd be weird.

great post. xo, s

sherri said...

p.s. off to vote for you. again. if it will let me.

Brenda said...

Hey, I wanna sit next to her!

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