By Pam Radel, Director of Child Care
I am proud to say that for the last 20 years, I have been the director of an inclusive child care program. Some of you may never have heard the term “inclusive” in child care so what does that mean? Inclusion is the educational practice of educating children with special needs in classrooms with typically developing children. The children are provided with activities that have been adapted for them, and support is given, as needed, in their weakest areas such as language, fine and gross motor, and behavior. Information is always shared with the parents so skills can be worked on at home as well.
At A Special Place Child Care Center, we work with early intervention staff including developmental interventionists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists as well as our behavioral staff including board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) and applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists. They work side by side with the classroom teachers to create an environment that works on strengthening areas of development in which a child may have a delay. The teacher creates a curriculum to enhance the learning process. The team works together with the intervention strategies. The children can take as much time as needed to complete an activity, and the activities offer more of a challenge to complete than some activities offered in a self-contained special education classroom.
For the typically developing child, an inclusive program can offer many benefits. Inclusion can positively affect the viewpoint that typically developing children have toward children with special needs and increase their awareness of different types of disabilities. I see children becoming “helpers” to their new friends which in turn helps them master their own developmental skills as well. The typically developing child learns to accept differences and becomes very caring towards their friends with special needs. This is an early stepping stone into adult life in a diverse society.
Over the years, I have seen children with special needs and their typically developing peers thrive in our inclusive classrooms. We strive to support children of all abilities in reaching their fullest potential!