The Inclusion Works! Parent Manual arose out of our work with parents in connection with our Inclusion Works! Parent Group Mentoring Project supported, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities. The project created local problem-solving groups of parents focused on including their children in general education settings in their local public schools.
This Manual contains tips and information that mentors and parents have found useful in ensuring more inclusive placements for their children. It provides an overview of updated research-based inclusive practices considered essential for the success of all children in our increasingly multi-ability classrooms and clarifies some of the history, processes, and jargon surrounding special education and inclusion.
Person centered planning is a strength-based technique where a collaborative team supports an individual with a disability and his/her family through the process of fully integrating him/her into the community. Each person centered planning method has its own unique strategies, but all share a set of common steps that include: Assembling a group of people, developing a personal profile and a vision for the future, solving problems and creating an action plan, and creating connections.
Leaders in the development of person centered planning include Beth Mount, John O’Brien, Connie O’Brien, Michael Smull, Susan Burke-Harrison, Marsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint. This manual provides information about Essential Lifestyle Planning (ELP), MAPS, Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH) as well as other methods.
Quality Indicators are statements of specific practices that have been documented through research and/or school-based experiences to promote the creation of inclusive learning communities where all students can be successful. The Quality Indicators listed in this Manual have been identified through an extensive review of research literature and examination of similar documents developed by eight states that have successfully used Quality Indicators to advance inclusive education practices in their schools. Input on the New Jersey Indicators was obtained from administrators and teachers across the state and piloted in schools in five New Jersey districts.
Part 1-NJ RTI MTSS Guide Introduction
Part 2-Minimum Criteria RTI MTSS Implementation
Part 3-RTI MTSS Implementation Guide
Part 4-Pop Ups for Implementation Guide
Part 5-Suggested RTI MTSS Resources"
New Jersey children with disabilities have been segregated for decades. In 2007, parents and advocates frustrated with exclusionary practices filed a federal lawsuit to compel the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to reduce unnecessary segregation.
Supported by the plaintiffs in the case, experts obtained the statewide data on student disability labels, school placement, inclusion, and other factors in 2012 and selected a statewide fair and representative random sample of students. The study of the sample revealed New Jersey’s non-compliance with the central requirements of federal law to educate students in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This scientific investigation of the special education system no doubt contributed to the NJDOE settling the lawsuit in 2014. This report is an explanation of what the expert witnesses did in their investigation, and what they found.
Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is an approach for developing an understanding of why a child is using challenging behavior. PBS does not mean changing the child. Rather, it means creating a new environment that supports the positive behavior you want to achieve. It means creating a plan that determines who will help and what you will do differently.
PBS is not just for use at school. Parents can use the same ideas to create a better environment for the entire family. Using PBS at home involves deciding what behavior you want to change; developing a theory about why you think the behavior is occurring; deciding how you want that behavior to change; using this information to select supports that have been proven to work, and consistently implementing the selected supports.
The following article includes tips that can help parents use PBS techniques with their children at home.
The ability to make effective choices and decisions for oneself is one of the most important competencies that all children (including those with disabilities) need to be successful in life after high school. Providing choices is clearly linked to self-determination and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and lays the foundation for independent living. To be effective, the process of teaching independent choice-making to children with disabilities must begin very early and must be ongoing.
Incorporating frequent opportunities for the child to make even small choices about things that s/he is expected to do can build independence, while giving the child a sense of control over things that occur in his/her environment.
This article includes information about choice-making and some practical ideas and examples for parents to facilitate choice-making at home.
Social Stories, created by Carol Gray, are a type of social narrative that provide direct instruction of social situations. They are stories describing a specific social situation that can be used to sequence, explain, and illustrate social rules or concepts and give the reader perspective on others' behaviors in these situations.
Social stories can be used to teach your child what to do in a given situation, to replace the less desirable things that s/he might be doing now. A social story can also be used to explain a confusing, frustrating, or potentially anxiety-producing situation, such as “what to expect when we fly on an airplane” or “my first day of kindergarten”. This article explains how to develop and use your own social stories with your child and also includes links for accessing pre-written stories and other resources.
Difficulties with communication are common for children who have autism and other developmental disabilities. Using visual strategies with these children can be helpful in supporting and increasing both their receptive and expressive communication skills. Tools such as objects, photographs, picture symbols, daily schedules, and choice boards can provide the support necessary to greatly improve the child’s understanding and ability to communicate, helping children be more active, independent and successful in their own lives. Just as adults use calendars, grocery lists, and “to do” lists to enhance memory, our children also benefit from visual reminders. This article provides information about creating and using using visual supports, such as calendars, schedules, checklists and choice boards, as well as various resources and websites.
The Alert Program for Self-Regulation” developed by two internationally known occupational therapists, Mary Sue Williams and Sherry Shellenberger assists children who have learning disabilities and attention problems to understand the basic theory of sensory integration related to their own alertness levels or arousal states. Children learn a repertoire of strategies that enhance their abilities to learn, interact with others, and work or play. This program provides a way for parents, teachers, and therapists to promote awareness of how individuals regulate their alertness levels and encourages the use of sensory-motor strategies. It teaches children that there are various ways to change how alert they feel by using sensory-motor strategies (including movement, touch, visual input, auditory input, etc).
Homework completion is an ongoing issue for many students and their families. In fact, homework is often identified by parents as the single biggest issue affecting their home life with their child. For children who learn differently, this homework issue can be greatly magnified. In order to get back on track and make homework time more manageable, it is important to investigate the exact reasons why homework is so problematic for your child. Armed with this knowledge, then you, your child and school professionals can work together to design an improvement plan tailored to your child’s own homework “roadblocks”.
This article troubleshoots some of the most commonly-encountered homework roadblocks. It is hoped that using this information to brainstorm solutions to your child’s issues with homework time will improve both school success and your family harmony.
All parents are confronted with difficult behavior from their child. Finding a practical solution to the issue is not always easy. However, it is possible to navigate the sea of behavior support confusion by trying something that is straightforward and easy.
This article explains a reinforcement or reward system called the “Catch Them Being Good Token System.” When you catch your child using good behaviors you want to see, you recognize this by placing a token in a container. Once a predetermined number of tokens has been earned, this can be celebrated by doing something fun as a family or by awarding your child with a reward.One of the many benefits is that it encourages everyone to recognize when children are meeting our expectations, rather than always focusing on correcting them when they fall short.
The McGill Action Planning System (MAPS) is a person-centered planning strategy that brings together key players in a focus individual’s life to create a “roadmap” for collaboratively working toward and achieving his/her dreams and goals. MAPS is different from some other planning tools because participants focus on what the student can do, instead of dwelling on weakness.
Through a series of questions, individuals and organizations using MAPS help the focus person (i.e., child with a disability) construct a personal history or life story based on personal milestones. The process identifies where that focus person currently is, what the person’s goals are, and how the team will work together to help this person reach the goals. This information is used to develop action steps for achieving the dreams.
This article outlines the MAPS process and the steps involved in performing a MAPS.
The term “advocacy” generally refers to the process of trying to persuade others to support your position or point of view. Advocacy can take place in many contexts, both formal (such as in an IEP meeting) and informal (such as when a teenager makes a case to his parents to be allowed to stay out late). Individuals with disabilities need to be able to speak up for themselves in order to express their wishes, wants and needs as well as to obtain the help and support of others. They need to develop and use self-advocacy skills. This can mean anything from communicating preferences at home (e.g. letting you know he’d rather have an apple than an orange) to letting an employer know that s/he needs a reasonable workplace accommodation. The following tips were compiled to help you and your child begin to navigate the process of developing self-advocacy skills.
Many children with disabilities have strong visual skills, and these strengths can be capitalized on with visual supports, such as daily schedules, mini-schedules, task checklists and behavior charts. These supports can be used to teach children new routines and foster independence in established ones. When written checklists are used to sequence steps in a task like homework time, this reduces the amount of verbal prompting needed to move a child through each step, which promotes independence and memory skills. Using these types of visual supports helps to develop self-monitoring skills and increases independence for children at any age. Visual supports such as these can be used to foster your child’s success across a wide variety of daily routines. This article explains how to use different kinds of visual supports to foster your child’s success during homework time.