Inclusion refers to the practice of educating children with disabilities in a typical learning setting among their typical peers.
Inclusion programs engage kids of all ages and abilities in academic, art, athletics, employment, and social events that encourage respect and appreciation for each other’s differences: instead of encouraging everyone to learn the same standard way. Inclusion programs celebrate that everyone learns differently because everyone is unique.
At Athletes 4 Autism, we believe that there is so much to appreciate in each individual autism spectrum diagnosis. Every kid — autism or not — has his or her own pattern of growth that requires different learning strategies; its just that our current education and extracurricular system is more accommodating to the “typical” majority’s differences. But we can — and will — change the game for our little champions.
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With the addition of an inclusion program to traditional therapies, we have witnessed kids with autism thrive in everyday settings they otherwise might not have. Instead of making kids who are different play in another arena, we encourage playing together.
We use interests in sports as a common denominator for inspired beginning conversations. Often, the “cool college kid” mentoring a child will be just enough motivation to get a non-verbal child attempting to communicate again. You can’t get more awesome — or “au-some” — than that.
Each inclusion program is different, just like each inclusive relationship made between your child and his/her mentors and peer friends. We let those relationships develop naturally.
All children benefit from inclusive education. It allows them to:
- Develop individual strengths and gifts, with high and appropriate expectations for each child.
- Work on individual goals while participating in the life of the classroom with other students their own age.
- Involve their parents in their education and in the activities of their local programs.
- Foster a culture of respect and belonging. Inclusive education provides opportunities to learn about and accept individual differences, lessening the impact of harassment and bullying.
- Develop friendships with a wide variety of other children, each with their own individual needs and abilities.
- Positively affect both their school and community to appreciate diversity and inclusion on a broader level.