When Our School District Said No Inclusion, We Moved.

 He refused clothes, except a pair of striped socks, and was non-verbal at 3 years old, when we first entered the school system.  Barking, like our family dog, was his form of communication, as he hid under the nearest table.  Needless to say, our school district intake meeting did not go well.  My son refused…

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The Case Against Competition

Growing up, I was very active in the performing arts– dance classes, choir, the school play, you name it! However, I always felt a sense of anxiety as the season began because the start to the season meant that auditions were coming. At auditions, I would be judged by my leaders and compared to my…

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Inclusion From Day One

My name is Hannah Alves, and I have an older sister with Down Syndrome. Her name is Sabrina, and she is 36 years young. I say it that way because ever since her 30th birthday, she has insisted that she is getting younger. As it is for most individuals with older siblings, I look up…

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The Power of Teamwork

Today, I’d like to tell you a story about a student of mine named Elena. Elena  is a seventh grade student who has been working so hard all year. She comes in to office hours before school, takes home extra study materials and extra credit work, and has significantly improved her self-advocacy skills. She is a…

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Different Abilities. Same Determination.

Ruben and Javier were both 16 year old students in my ROP (Regional Occupational Program) Retail Sales class.  The class consisted of 19 students – 3 of which were in our district’s special education program. Ruben and Javier both had learning disabilities, according to their IEPs, and their academic skills were below those of the…

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Meeting Them “Where They Are”

When I was coordinating a Unified Theater program in North Carolina, there was one participant, whom I will call Katie, who, at first, really did not want to be there. She complained about the games, the snack, the skits… really whatever she could find to complain about. Each week, I was sure that she was…

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To all the Moms Out There: THANK YOU!

As you likely know, Mother’s Day was this past weekend.  I am constantly reminded by how selfless so many of the world’s moms are. Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week at my school, and I cannot tell you how many mothers there were working tirelessly to cook, decorate, and greet us to thank us for…

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Laura Panetta, International Inclusion Advocate, age 7

Isn’t the universe cool? Recently here at Kids Included Together, we were notified that we have been granted special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. This makes us part of a select group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that can contribute to information dissemination, awareness, policy advocacy, and development education, and…

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Golden Moments

I have heard the stories from other families who tried to sign their child with a disability up for a class (gymnastics, music, dance, etc) or even preschool – and have been met with a deer-in-the-headlight look. They have been given a myriad of excuses of why they can’t accept their child in this class…

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“Please, Spare Kids with Special Needs the Pity”

I recently came across a pretty old blog post written by Ellen Seidman from Love That Max. It was titled “Please, Spare Kids with Special Needs the Pity” and critiqued an Irish song called “Unlucky One,” written about a child with Cerebral Palsy. I love Ellen’s writing. She shares her perspective unapologetically and never stops advocating…

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