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Inclusive Classrooms Versus Special Needs Classrooms: Which is Best for Your Child?

By Jenny Wise Like all parents, the parents of children with special needs are faced with their share of joys and challenges. One of the biggest questions to consider when raising a child with special needs is which education path to take. There are very polarized views in our society about how children with special needs should be educated. Of course, this is a deeply personal decision that deserves to be made by parents. It is a decision that should only be made after carefully considering what is best for their child’s unique needs and situation. While nobody can make the decision for you, there are some things you should consider to help ensure you make the best possible decision for your child. Perhaps the biggest questions parents struggle with: Would my child learn better from a specially trained instructor who specializes in special needs education or is it better to keep my child integrated with other students, including those who do not have special needs? One strong argument for placing your child in a special needs class is that the teachers of those classes have a strong professional background working with special needs students. This equips special needs teachers to better identify disabilities and to design custom-tailored learning curriculum for your child’s needs. Special needs classrooms also often have safe spaces specifically created to help children calm down during higher energy moments. However, some parents believe it is harmful to the special needs child to place them in their own separate learning environment. For many, it feels like segregation rather than equal education. As an alternative, inclusive learning environments are growing in popularity. In an inclusive learning environment, your child will be placed in a classroom with a variety of students (with or without special needs). Depending on your child’s needs, they may be able to excel in an inclusive environment, especially if they have the assistance of a trained service dog. And, of course, inclusive learning environments also always have trained special education teachers available in addition to a traditional regular education teacher. Unfortunately, not all cities have these inclusive classroom environments yet. Because inclusive education is still growing in popularity, even if you have inclusive classrooms locally, each classroom will vary greatly in methods, approaches, and the experiences of your child. Additionally, some schools only educate certain types of special needs students, such as those with mild disabilities. If your child has a moderate or more severe disability, there is a chance that he or she will still be placed in a separate special needs classroom - even in a so-called “inclusive” school. It also might be helpful to tour the school and meet potential instructors prior to making your final decision. Take note of classroom setup, the teacher’s background and experience level, and whether the classroom environment would be a good fit for your child. When it comes to children with special needs, a classroom with desks organized into small groups or “pods” can be a signal of an inclusive environment that allows abled and disabled students to work together in teams. It can feel overwhelming when you begin to take those first steps towards getting the proper education for your child with special needs. You don’t have to do it alone; there are support groups for families with special needs children, and the internet is full of helpful resources. With some research, some effort, and some soul-searching, you can find the best possible situation for your child.
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A huge thank you to the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation, which has generously granted $1,500 towards DSRF's educational programs for individuals with Down syndrome. We are so grateful for the Foundation's investment in our students!
July 10, 2017 To DSRF Families & Supporters: It is with sadness and gratitude that the Board of Directors announces the departure of Dawn McKenna as Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Research Foundation (DSRF) effective August 18th. Dawn has been with DSRF for almost 18 years and has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization. While we will miss her dedication and leadership, we wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor as Executive Director of the Pacific Autism Family Centre (PAFC). We would like to thank her for her many years of dedicated service to DSRF, including the following highlights: Building a dedicated, talented, multi-disciplinary team of professionals Significantly reducing debt and improving financial stability Successfully completing two multi-million dollar capital campaigns Hosting a very successful international World Congress with over 1200 attendees from 43 countries Over the next few weeks we will be conducting a search to find DSRF’s new Executive Director. During this transition period it is our priority to find the best individual to lead while maintaining a stable and effective organization. Once the job announcement has been posted we would appreciate your help in identifying candidates who could help with the continuation of DSRF’s growth and development. Again, we thank Dawn for the dedication, enthusiasm and passion she has given to DSRF. She will be greatly missed by the staff, volunteers, Board and supporters. We wish her much success and look forward to future collaborations with her at PAFC. If you have any questions or concerns during this transition process, please contact Sarah Parker at DSRF who will pass your messages along to the Board. Yours sincerely, Geoff Griffiths,Chair of the Board Please click here to download a PDF of this announcement
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Down Syndrome Research Foundation
1409 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby
British Columbia, Canada
V5B 4J8

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