Friday, September 23, 2005

Presume competence

Presume competence
'Retarding environments are not limited to segregated or congregate settings. They can exist anywhere individuals with disabilities are prevented from living ordinary, natural lives and having power over their environments.

We must look at children and adults and presume competence. How can we prevent retarding environments? First, by understanding that people with disabilities need the same experiences for growth and development as people without disabilities. To meet that goal, children and adults with disabilities must be in age-appropriate, typical, ordinary, inclusive settings.'

I went to back-to-school night last night. Emma Sage's time was at 5:15 p.m. and Otto's was at 7:45 p.m.

I love our school district [but I believe that is because I love our community, and our schools are a direct reflection of our community]. Of coarse not everything is perfect ~~~what it life is, but as a whole, our schools are such a positive, constructive, stimulating and nurturing environment for our children to grow and learn in.

Emma Sage is in a very empowering environment. She is in a fully inclusive Pre-K class where she is the only child with a disability. But unfortunately I do believe that her teacher and aides do not presume competence.................. but it will be OK for this year, because her environment will be the catalyst for her to grow and learn.

There are, though, many teachers and a principal, in the school district that presume competence and are very supportive of inclusive settings,,,,,so Emma Sage's school days should all be positive and rewarding.

On a very positive note, at back-to-school night one of the teachers came up to me in the hallway [a 20+ year teaching veteran and mother of 6] and told me how much she adored having Emma Sage in class [music teacher] and that she was completely in awe of Emma Sage and how she listens, participates, answers questions and has such a joy for music!

She told me more than one time "She is so aware of what is going on around her" that it made me think that maybe, just maybe, this teacher had fallen into the trap of looking at a child with a disability and not presuming competence, but now having Emma Sage in her class she is finding out that some misconception she held before is eroding away.

That was just a great encounter for me.

Well, it took a bunch of evenings out, but our back-to-school nights for the year 2005 have come and gone, and I can't believe next year will be my last back-to-school night for Katrina!.......where-oh-where does the time go?

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