When referring to educational settings, the term “inclusion” can be described as an approach to teaching where students with special needs are educated in traditional classroom settings. One of the main ideas behind inclusion is the realization of each individual’s differences along with the acceptance of those differences by all involved. Research has revealed that when inclusion is carried out appropriately, all students benefit no matter what their cognitive, academic, emotional, or physical functioning levels are. Inclusion promotes acceptance of all people.
It is also important to educate the classmates of an individual with Down syndrome. The following video entitled “Just Like You” is intended for classmates. It focuses on how there are more similarities rather than differences when it comes to a child with Down syndrome.
This website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of her work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
An individualized education plan (IEP) is a legal document written for a public school student who has special needs. The plan is personalized specifically to address the individual’s needs. The team of people who write the plan may include any of the following individuals: Student, Parent/Guardian, Director of Special Education Services, Principal, Assistant Principal, School Psychologist, School Counselor, Speech and Language Pathologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, General Education Teacher, Special Education Teacher, other professionals and/or friends of the family (ie. Advocate, Outpatient Therapist, Aunt, etc.). The plan includes goals and special services necessary for the student to successfully learn and perform in the educational system. Progress on the IEP is monitored and can be updated as necessary, specific to the student. The law enforcing IEP’s can sometimes be confusing.
In the educational world, the term “transition services” refers to the planning that occurs to move the child from school to post-graduation activities. The intention of transition services is to consider the individual student’s needs and desires and plan for a successful transition into “adulthood”. Discussions around transition planning should begin to occur in late elementary years and increase into middle school and high school. Some of the most important discussions, preparation, and goal setting should occur at the start of high school to ensure an appropriate plan is in place to assist in the transition from high school to adulthood (which could include additional academics, community employment, socialization opportunities, living quarters, etc.).
College and Postsecondary Options
In recent years, many colleges and universities across the country have been creating opportunities for students with disabilities. Although laws are different from the k-12 public school system to colleges/universities, individuals with disabilities are still protected. In the k-12 setting, schools follow the law based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. Post-secondary options, however, follow the law outlined by the Office for Civil Rights.
To LEARN MORE about post-secondary options, click on the following link and then go to the “Find a College” tab and follow the prompts to find the appropriate college/university for you: http://www.thinkcollege.net/
To LEARN MORE about student’s rights under the Office of Civil Rights, click the following link for a “Frequently Asked Questions” page: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html
Reading Tips and Tricks
Many people with Down syndrome struggle with reading, comprehension, fluency, and phonics. Research has shown that a mixture of both “Errorless Learning” and “Sight Word/Whole Word Reading” oftentimes results in the best outcomes in learning to read.
Math Tips and Tricks
Math can be a big struggle for some people with Down syndrome. Research has shown that certain math programs and ways of teaching produce better outcomes. The following link contains teaching methods, activities, and modules to assist in teaching math to individuals with learning struggles. It is divided by age (3-5 years, 5-11 years, and 11-16 years).
Tips for Educators who Teach Children with Down Syndrome
Most college/university Education Programs require some degree of special education coursework in order to obtain a degree. However, the courses are not usually specific to a certain type of learning disability or diagnosis. For example, a college student might be required to take a special education course where they cover a wide range of disabilities in a short period of time. Therefore, the general education teacher might need to do additional research for the variety of learning styles in his/her classroom.
Tips for Behavior
As children with Down syndrome mature, just as a children without a disability, they “test the waters” to figure out how they can get what they want. Sometimes that “testi ng” turns into undesired behaviors which can be difficult to change. Dr. David Stein, Boston Children’s Neuropsychologist, presented at the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress in 2012 focusing on behavior and Down syndrome. To watch the presentation, click here.
Inclusion in Extracurricular Athletics
It is important for the individual with Down syndrome to be included into the community in all facets of his/her life including, but not limited to, education, extracurricular activities, community employment, etc. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights outlined recommendations for students with disabilities in extracurricular athletics.
iPad Use in Down Syndrome Education