4 Things You Need to Know About Inclusion from Inclusion Warriors Karen Ford Cull and Iris Barker
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
Write IEP Goals with a Gen Ed Focus
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:
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."