While it’s no secret that I am a true believer in full inclusion for secondary-level students with an NVLD and similar disabilities, I don’t agree with it for elementary students. This is because, for the elementary level, true full inclusion means having all your support services in the regular classroom. I believe these students besides needing more direct instruction also need a place just to cool off. That being said I believe these students shouldn’t be leaving the classroom for every service either and it should be limited to 45-60 minutes with the understanding that by the time students reach the secondary level true full inclusion needs to be in place.
For example, in DK and K my parents chose for my services to pull out speech therapy and Adaptive Physical Education since my gross and oral motor skills delays showed that I needed direct instruction. So, this meant in DK and K I only left my regular class for 45 mins every day for speech and only once a week for 30 mins for APE.. Because it was clear I needed direct practice with learning how to share and taking turns, leaving the classroom didn’t make sense as I would have fewer learning experiences to gain these skills. This choice led to all of my needs being equally addressed.
For 1st and 2nd Grade we decided to add both push in and pull out Resource rooms and occupational therapy 2x a cycle which was a new service for our district at the time. This resulted in me only leaving the classroom for 60 mins daily as each service was offered on different days and speech was now 30 mins. Therefore I could be part of all areas of learning but had a supportive setting to address my motor skills deficits. I especially needed a private setting to really learn how to write and cut as these were difficult for me and I could get really frustrated. Whereas learning to become a better listener and how to follow directions it was helpful having my resource room teacher providing this support in the classroom.
Now for 3rd to 5th grade we did things a little differently given how academic and social demands were really starting to increase.Therefore I now had pull out speech therapy 3x a cycle,resource room was 4x a cycle for pull out and 2x for push in services Adaptive Physical education was primarily given indirectly and OT remained the same. For me this was really a perfect balance for being involved in the classroom and getting help for overcoming my NVLD. Having 45-60 mins each day in a small and supportive setting also helped me express my difficulties in a healthier way and gave me the down time I needed to just regroup.
Come Middle school we decided for my services to include Speech Therapy 3x a cycle both push in and pull out, resource room 6x a cycle pull out, and pull out OT 1x a cycle. This was a surprise to some however it allowed me to get the academic and emotional support that I needed to be a successful and be a true full inclusion student. Receiving more resource room time would have meant I would have been in a resource room only for English and Reading Class so I would have only been a partial inclusion student. For me personally this would have been a mistake given how I had unique challenges but yet wanted to be personally connected too.
By high school we were extra careful with all the choices we made both academically and personally that full inclusion was in place for me. First, my parents refused the C Level English and History classes designed for resource room students as they knew it wasn’t full inclusion. Our current Special Education Director however tried to convince us it was full inclusion given that the general education curriculum was taught and students still took the Regents (state exam). The catch was these courses were just for students with IEPs so it was partial inclusion which limited opportunities for academic and social growth.For students like myself taking these classes are actually hurtful as we learned proper social skills through having positive role models and achieved the most academically when we are challenged consistently. Fortunately my parents knew this so I always took all of my courses with non-disabled peers too which allowed me to maintain a strong peer support system and strong role models.
Now this is the end for Part A. Hopefully you understand the importance of being in the classroom in your early years and the importance of full inclusion in the secondary level..
Eileen is a Project Social Ambassador and blogger for The NVLD Project. She loves helping others understand they can achieve their goals and dreams through hard work and dedication.