Autism is often referred to or seen as the “invisible disability” and makes inclusion tricky.

 

What are the expectations ?

 

Inclusion at school, inclusion within the family, inclusion within the community…

 

These days inclusion is in every social topic, in government bills and education  acts that are going through and in schools that have mainstream students in the spectrum… And  …. we are expected to enforce it with results likely to happen.

 

Concerns arise when it comes to “inclusion”. I personally have mixed feelings when I hear the word “inclusion”; hope, anxiety, deception… and they all relate to school, community and family.

Let me focus today on hope.

 

Hope is often interconnected with school. It’s the mindset that everyday will be better than the day before. As parents we are confronted with or we work together with many stakeholders to make inclusion successful; peers, teachers, school staff, etc. In my experience, school is the easiest setting where inclusion can be made possible.

 

An ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) child who grew up with peers since preschool has a better chance to be accepted and to blend among students. Teachers can either make that easy or difficult; it’s called educating students about learning and accepting differences. Although it has not always been the case,I do have one positive anecdote to share. It took place in second grade when the teacher taught on the topic of learning differences between students and how to guide peers to get along.

 

She displayed 3 animals figures: an eagle, a dog and a rabbit; why she chose those three specifically I don’t know but all three had their own special way of seeing the world, their unique way of learning, their unusual way of displaying emotions and coping with these emotions.

 

From that description I remember stating that my son was the eagle. Students felt encouraged and started to create their own “intervention” methods so that when my son went to school he found a pile of notes on his desk; from pieces of paper where notes were scribbled to notes directly addressed to him or/and notes asking my permission to play with my son.

 

That was my hope. That everyone would act like this teacher and build a generation which accepts kids for who they are  with their learning differences and to embrace them. Peers were encouraged and empowered to learn social acceptance to beat the harsh feeling of loneliness.