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

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

Published: Jan. 31, 2022Updated: Jun. 6, 2023

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 here! 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

Join the Undivided Community to get more resources like this in your inbox



Brittany OlsenUndivided Editor

An editor and cartoonist who loves using words and images to simplify and share ideas. She has ten years of experience as a copy editor and lives near Portland, Oregon. She often spends her free time going on nature walks with her dog or trying new bread recipes.

Reviewed by

Meghan O'Dell, Undivided Writer and Editor

Promise Image
Each piece of content has been rigorously researched, edited, and vetted to bring you the latest and most up-to-date information. Learn more about our content and research process here.
A Navigator is your Partner at each turn
Every Undivided Navigator has years of experience supporting families raising kids with disabilities or parenting their own. Partner with an Undivided Navigator for a free Kickstart to learn first hand what support feels like!
Expert-driven content, guidance, and solutions.
Member events and office hours with real answers, plus access to our private parents' group.
Priority to begin a free Kickstart of the Undivided Support System with a dedicated Navigator.
“It’s so helpful to have one place that you can go to get many answers.”–Leeza Woodbury, with Navigator Kelly since 2020
*Currently offering Navigator Kickstarts to residents of California