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Case Study

How much to share?

Early Intervention and Public Policy

attitudes, have a natural acceptance of individual differences. They are unlikely to make negative judgments and comparisons about children who are devel- opmentally disabled. When they do comment or ask questions, it is because they need to learn about whatever it is that is unfamiliar about the child with a disability.


It is inappropriate to frame the discussion of inclusion around questions such as “Does inclusion work?” or “Is inclusion right for our program?” Inclusion is the law. All early childhood programs that receive federal funds must include chil- dren with special needs. With passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is also against the law for private early childhood programs to refuse to serve a child because of disability. It is important, however, to discuss the concerns that parents and professionals have about inclusion and to work together to over- come challenges that may interfere with providing quality inclusive programs for all children. (See nearby “Case Study” Box for further discussion of this issue.). It is also important to note that successful inclusion can look different for each child. One child might be able to learn in a neighborhood preschool without extra support or specialized services, while another might require the assistance of a shadow aide or paraprofessional for all or part of the day. The discussion that follows identies the most common concerns about inclusion and provides brief glimpses into research ndings that address those issues.

Will Special Needs Be Served?

Parents and teachers have expressed concern that the special needs of chil- dren with disabilities may not be met adequately in inclusive early childhood programs. They feel that teachers may not have the time or the skills. They also

O ne of the challenges faced by parents of children with special needs is how much information to share about their child with potential early childhood programs. Some parents have faced rejection from care providers when they hear the child has special needs, often before they have even met the child. On the other hand, once parents have found a program, it is critical that the staff have the information needed to provide proper care and effective teaching. Think about how you would approach this issue as a parent. What types of questions could you ask a program to determine whether it is a good t? What are the potential problems, if any, of not sharing enough information or sharing too much information?

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