Undivided: Why Is Disability Inclusion Important

4 Things You Need to Know About Inclusion from Inclusion Warriors Karen Ford Cull and Iris Barker

Event Recap
Jan. 31, 2022Updated Jul. 29, 2022

Our Unite and Conquer series brings people together to talk through issues and problem-solve. On January 20, 2022, we sat down (virtually) with inclusion warriors Karen and Iris to hear how they are smashing barriers and making inclusion work for their kids (spoiler alert: with lots of hard — but worth it — work!).

Karen Ford Cull, Undivided’s Content Specialist and mom to a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, and Iris Barker, Undivided Navigator and Independent Facilitator and mom to an 8-year-old with Down syndrome, explained that they have stopped looking for that perfect (and elusive) inclusive school; instead, they’re creating a new path for their kids and others.

Here are the top four takeaways from our conversation that you won’t want to miss!

Push for Academic Goals

Both Iris and Karen talked about the importance of fighting for inclusion in a general education environment. Hear why Iris pushes for academic goals over teaching life skills in this clip:

Write IEP Goals with a Gen Ed Focus

Karen said that the best advice she’s received is to include a specific phrase in as many of her child’s IEP goals as possible. Hear her explanation in this clip, as well as why you shouldn’t replace curriculum with goals:

Don't Be Afraid to Rock the Boat

Iris reminds us that we are the experts of our own children; if you want to try inclusion, push for it and don't let the school tell you it can't be done. Karen highlights the need for our kids to learn how to be with others in the world (after all, you have to get into the pool to learn how to swim!). Hear why we shouldn't be afraid to rock the boat in this clip:

Build Awareness

Karen and Iris were also both busy answering parent questions and comments from the chat window of our Facebook Live event. Shari A. wrote, "Would love to chat about how to build better authentic relationships in an inclusive environment where there are not any kids like mine in his grade."

Iris responded, "I know a mom who is putting a lot of effort into spreading awareness in her school district. Is there a day or week where the school celebrates disabilities? Maybe that would be a good time to share more about your son. I feel that many times that is the first step: to create awareness, so that they even notice us and understand our kids also have feelings, thoughts, wishes, and likes just like them!"

We’re so grateful to our Undivided community for contributing their own experiences and advice. Susan H. shared, "If you can get 'push-in' RSP, speech, and OT rather than 'pull-out,’ it helps the child feel more included, and the teachers/therapist can see what is happening in the classroom and to see what they need."

If you missed the event or want to review what we learned, you can watch the full recording below! And check out our Inclusion 101 article for even more information.




Push for Academic Goals

Write IEP Goals with a Gen Ed Focus

Don't Be Afraid to Rock the Boat

Build Awareness

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Related Parent Questions

Is it possible to be in general education if you need curriculum modifications?
It is possible to be in a general education class with a modified curriculum. Experts recommend that the student have an inclusion specialist (or a special education teacher) to help ensure that the student has the modifications and accommodations they need to be successful.
What is Universal Design for Learning and how is it used in school?
Because everyone learns differently, accessibility should be designed into lesson plans so that every student can benefit from the same curriculum. Teachers trained in UDL understand that it is important to incorporate different needs, strengths, and learning styles into their lesson plans.
How do I write inclusion into my child’s IEP?
When discussing services, ask if it’s possible for the service to be provided in the GenEd setting as push-in, meaning that it occurs in the GenEd classroom. If it has to be pull-out, ask if it’s possible to be provided outside the regular school day to minimize disruption to GenEd time.

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