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June 23, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Teaching children with disabilities

Posted by Letters editor

One size does not fit all

The recent article “Trying to teach Donovan: a long struggle for schools” [News, June 20], pointed out that some children with severe disabilities are not able to access or benefit from the general education curriculum, despite federal legal requirements. Although this may be the reality for some children, it is not the reality for all children with disabilities; special education is not “one size fits all,” as noted by teacher Barbara Levine.

Children with disabilities receive special-education services according to Individualized Education Plans. These children need to be treated as individuals and not fit into cookie-cutter programs or preconceived mindsets. Some children with severe disabilities will benefit from exposure to the general education curriculum and non-disabled peers. We owe them the opportunity to show us what they can achieve, not first assume that, because of their disabilities, they cannot make progress.

The same is true of children with less-severe disabilities — especially those with developmental delays, autism spectrum disorders, or behavioral issues. The default should be placing them in the general education environment with the supports they need to succeed. These same supports also help other students in the classroom who may or may not have diagnosed disabilities. Inclusion means each student is welcomed and his/her unique needs and learning styles are addressed.

— Janet Anderson, president of Seattle Special Education PTSA, Seattle

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