I agree with the idea of inclusion. Any mother of any child with special needs would. Ideally, I would want my child to be in the least restrictive environment, meaning a general education classroom. I would hope that that general ed classroom could meet the needs of every child within. Every parent hopes for that.
But that ideal is rarely found in reality.
This is due to lots of factors, but I can tell you that the number one predictor of a student’s success in the classroom is the teacher. It is a proven fact, and I have enough of my own life experience that tells me it is true.
The ugly truth is that there are teachers who make their rooms an unwelcome place for kids with special needs. And in reality, those teachers are making their rooms unwelcome for any student who struggles. And that means inclusion just can’t happen. When this teacher is the only one who teaches the subject in the school, it means that subject is not accessible to any special needs student in the school (and probably fewer general ed students, as well).
We’re having a meeting with the principal and vice principal, the autism program teacher, and the county autism specialist, and the band teacher on Wednesday. I want my son to have access to the instrumental music program. I fear he has lost interest because he knows this teacher sees him as a “problem” and has made his room unwelcome. I want it on the record that this teacher has allowed this to happen, no, that he has designed his classroom to be unwelcome to students with special needs. I want it noted that he hasn’t provided the accommodations and modifications that are my son’s right, per his IEP. I want everyone there to know that I offered suggestions to alleviate some of the difficulties he is having, and they were ignored.
I want all of this on the table, because it isn’t right that band is virtually inaccessible to special needs student at this school. Even if my own son decides not to continue because of what has happened this year, I want these “exclusive” behaviors exhibited by this teacher to be on the radar of those in charge.
It would be easy to quit, to pull him out of this hostile environment. But we won’t go without a fight. Every child has a right to the curriculum taught in that classroom, and he shouldn’t be allowed to continue his behaviors that exclude any part of the student population.