Inclusion and “All Kids Can”

Ever since my memoir Long Time, No See was published I’ve been asked to guest-lecture for college classes. I usually talk about writing, about the assistive technology I use to write, or simply about what it’s like to live with a disability.

When I speak to the teacher education programs at Elmhurst College this Thursday, though, I’ll be talking about something a little different. I’ll lecture on what it’s like to be a parent of a child with a disability.

The students I talk to on Thursday are studying to be general education teachers. As part of their curriculum they are required to take one — just one — course in special education.

Considering that more than 95 percent of students with autism and other disabilities receive some or all of their education in regular classrooms, can one special education course for future teachers be enough?

This is where All Kids Can helps. Created by the CVS/pharmacy Charitable Trust, All Kids Can is a five-year, $25 million commitment to making life easier for children with disabilities. Through this signature program, CVS and the Trust help non-profit organizations like Easter Seals raise awareness in schools and in local communities about the importance of inclusion. In 2007, $350,000 in All Kids Can Fund grants went to support Easter Seals affiliates across the country.

I know that the general education students I’ll be speaking to on Thursday will benefit from hearing how inclusion played a major role in the life of my son, who has severe disabilities. But I’m only one woman. I can’t do it alone. That’s why I’m grateful to CVS for funding programs to promote the awareness of inclusion and its importance to children with disabilities.


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  1. Beth Finke Says:

    Of course I remember you – my ears perked up when we went around the class to introduce ourselves and you said you had a degree in speech pathology and wanted to work with kids who have autism. And at that point you didn’t even know I moderate this autism blog for Easter Seals – what a coincidence!
    I would have responded to your comment earlier but I’ve been away — took a trip to visit old friends in Urbana, Illinois. We lived in Urbana when our son Gus was growing up so I am very familiar with the Master’s program at nearby Eastern Illinois University in Charlston. I’m pretty sure some of the speech pathology students from EIU worked with Gus as part of their practicum. They were great — you’ll do well there, I know. Good luck and keep up the good work, Kourtney –

  2. Kourtney Dauer Says:

    Beth Finke,
    My name is Kourtney Dauer and I am a student at Elmhurst College. I really enjoyed your visit last week. You were very personable and willing to share personal experiences with the class. I do not know if you remember, but I am the student that is studying speech pathology. I already have a B.A. degree and I am currently working towards my master’s degree. I will be attending Eastern Illinois University in the Fall. Thanks again for sharing your experiences and passions with my class. I look forward to talking with you soon!

    Kourtney Dauer

  3. Beth Finke Says:

    Had a great time talking to the Elmhurst College students yesterday. A very cool group of students with broad interests: some wanted to be kindergarten
    teachers, others wanted to be school counselors, and some wanted to teach high school. One young woman was studying speech pathology, she wants to work
    in schools with kids who have autism. They told me that although they are only required to take this one special ed course, they discuss inclusion and
     special ed in a lot of their other classes, too. We joked about the “inclusion of inclusion” in  all their coursework.

    Just to clarify something, I never meant to imply in my post that it was only Elmhurst College  that requires just
    one special ed class — that comes from state and federal law. Governmental policy requires teachers (gen ed) have at least one course in “exceptionalities”
    in order to get their teacher certification. So it isn’t just these students at Elmhurst College who only take one special ed course to become gen ed teachers,
    that is true at other coleges, too. 

    The students yesterday were enthusiastic, curious, and eager to get out there and teach. I’d say that the course in exceptionalities yesterday was..well…

  4. Beth Finke Says:

    You know, I’ll admit: I was a little surprised at that 95% number myself! I found the statistic at Education Next, a publication of the Hoover Institution:
    Do you suppose that statistic includes when kids with disabilities are included in just one music class a day, or if they participate in just one gym class? That might account for the 95%.
    In any case, thanks for your comment and good wishes – the more CVS, Easter Seals and all of us know about inclusion, the better!

  5. mcewen Says:

    I’m surprised [pleasantly] to learn that it’s as many as 95%! It sounds like a great programme and anything that promotes awareness certainly gets my vote. Good for you and good for Easter Seals.
    Best wishes

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