Key Elements of Inclusion

“What is Inclusion?The term inclusion implies a certain educational placement philosophy, interdisciplinary team planning approach, instructional method and attitude.”

“Inclusion DOES NOT necessarily mean that a student never leaves the class and is never paired with another student who receives special education services. Rather, it means that the student is truly a member of a class and is valued as much as any other student in that school. Inclusion means that a student will receive the support needed in order to be an active participant, contributor, and learner in his or her class, grade and school.”

“Based on successful inclusive education experiences in Maryland, it is clear that a key element for success is planning and the most significant factor in building an inclusive educational setting is the vision and leadership of the building administrator.”

What else does it take promote educational inclusion?  In an inclusive school, what do students, parents, and staff members believe?  Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Special Education and Early Intervention Services, and Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education prepared a list of 13 elements of inclusion.  Here are the first six:

Questions & Answers on Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Requirements of IDEA

When discussion of placement arises in an IEP meeting, often how much “inclusion” will be accessible for a student becomes a topic of conversation.  Where is “inclusion” in IDEA?  Is that term actually there?  Or is it a concept?  Least Restrictive Environment is the term IDEA uses to define placements.  The United States Department of Education, office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), published a guidance memo November 23, 1994 that answered these 10 common questions about Least Restrictive Environment.  (Keep in mind that this memo was issued before the two reauthorizations which may have changed the actual code references which were attached to the original IDEA).  Find the answers to all of these questions below.

  1. What are the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Requirements of Part B of IDEA?
  2. Does IDEA define the term “inclusion?”
  3. How can IDEA requirements be implemented to ensure that consideration is given to whether a student with a disability can be educated in the regular education environment with the use of supplementary aids and services before a more restrictive placement is considered?
  4. Does IDEA define the term “supplementary aids and services?”
  5. How frequently must a disabled student’s placement be reviewed under IDEA?
  6. If a determination is made that a student with a disability cannot be educated in regular classes with the provisions of supplementary aids and services, can school districts refuse to implement the student’s IEP in a specific class because of the unwillingness of a particular teacher to educate that student
    Read more…

Is Inclusion Possible for Students with Disabilities in Hamilton County?

Chattanooga Inclusive Ed recently provided a requested white paper to Chattanooga 2.0 outlining current deficiencies in inclusive best practices in the Hamilton County Department of Education, a summary of evidence on the benefits of inclusion for children with and without exceptional needs, and concrete recommendations for reform. Here’s an excerpt from the white paper on how reforms for inclusive education have been successfully implemented in Metro Nashville public schools — a district larger, more urban and on average poorer than our own. If Metro Nashville can do it, surely we can too!

Several years ago, leaders in Metro Nashville Public Schools realized they had a serious problem with inclusion. In fact, Metro Nashville ranked last among Local Education Agencies (LEAs) according to the state’s Indicator 5 measures of inclusion. Over the past several years, Metro Nashville has (more…)


Stubborn Is…As Stubborn Does

Stubborn is…as Stubborn Does by Carol Johnson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“It is interesting to me how many people talk about their child’s stubborn behavior as if it was part and parcel with having Down syndrome. It isn’t. There are many people who are stubborn who do not have DS. In fact, in some situations, being stubborn is seen as a positive trait.”

“Think about it. If you were in a situation where you did not understand what was going on around you and people were trying to get you to do something you were unsure of, what would you do?”

“How can we change the pattern?”

Carol Johnson answers this question in an article she wrote on this topic.   While it was written from the standpoint of a child with Down Syndrome, many of her questions to consider would apply regardless of disability.  You can find it here Stubborn Is As Stubborn Does or



Transition Resources

The internet holds a plethora of resources on the topic of transition, whether it be to secondary education, employment or independent living.  Here are a few that we have discovered through the years. Some include older data, but their suggestions and recommendations are still valid.  

How Students with Disabilities Can Prepare for College –

Creating Options: A Resource on Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities  –

The Disclosure Dilemma for Advocates by Laverne A Buchanan, Ed.D. (more…)


Myths Associated with Inclusive Education

For years parents and educators have heard many excuses why students with disabilities should not be full included in their home zoned school..  Many times these excuses fall into specific categories.

Myth #1: Students with significant disabilities educated in general education classrooms won’t get the support they need.

Myth #2: Students with the most significant disabilities do better when they are educated in separate classrooms.

Myth #3: Inclusive education has a negative impact on students without disabilities.

Myth #4: Some students with disabilities are too disruptive to be (more…)


Achieving Inclusion

What Every Parent Advocating for Their Child Should Know

“Had Nate’s family accepted the initial recommendation of the school, Nate would not have had access to the general education curriculum. He would not have read The Scarlet Letter and been able to share his thoughts on it with friends. He would not have dissected a shark or learned to make a taco salad for his classmates. He might not have learned to open his locker in the junior hall. At Nate’s high school, he would not have been able to enter the school through the same door as students without disabilities.”

Inclusion isn’t a practice that schools can choose to adopt or reject. (Kluth, Villa, & Thousand, 2001) It is a legally-supported, evidence-based practice that continues to (more…)


Autism Treatment Options – What Is Available?

The sheer volume of autism treatment options can be overwhelming to a parent with a new diagnosis.  We have listed here some common treatment options with summaries and links to additional details on each treatment option.  Websites listed here have been used and recommended by LifeLine families over the last 13 years.  Not all options will be effective for every family.  This list is not in any particular order and this list should not be considered exhaustive.  Summaries of each option are pulled directly from their website linked.



Elopement: Stop Running by Building Skills

“Nat runs to avoid work

Sherry runs when she wants attention

Mark runs whenever he can

They ran in the past and continue to run in spite of strategies created to stop the running. Sound familiar? People who run create stress for everyone involved; often their safety is at risk or their running creates further problems. No matter what the cause, you want the running to stop. The focus of most interventions is to stop the “runner,” a poor use of your time and energy. People will run faster, further and harder when you try to stop them without responding to the underlying needs triggering the running in the first place.”

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society has created a valuable resource in their Education Information Series that addresses (more…)


Support Campaign for Chattanooga Police Officers


Contact: Mitzi Johnston
Telephone: 423.648.4303
Support Campaign for Chattanooga Police Officers

Chattanooga, TN – 6/10/16

Harvest Bible Chapel Chattanooga, WMBW/Moody Radio Southeast, and Pierce Law Firm are teaming together to solicit donations of items to show our city’s support for our Chattanooga Police Department officers.
After an alarming increase in shootings in April, the Chattanooga Police Department responded with more officers on the streets, meaning longer hours and more work for the officers, who often are so busy they cannot stop for meals. The goal is to provide a show of appreciation through supplies of practical and useful nonmonetary resources for every officer.

Martin Pierce, attorney at Pierce Law Firm said (more…)


The Role of ParaEducators in Inclusive Schools

“A paraeducator is an individual who provides instructional or related support to students under the direction and supervision of a certified teacher. In the last two decades, the roles and responsibilities of paraeducators in inclusive schools have reached new levels of importance. The role of paraeducators has evolved from clerical support to personal support, such as feeding and toileting, to responsibilities for providing instructional and behavioral supports that are integral to the effective provision of services to students with disabilities. This evolution of roles is, in part, due to: (more…)


Ralph Braun Foundation – Accessible Vehicle Fund

Ralph Braun Foundation logo“Ralph Braun passed away in 2013. In 2010, Braun recognized that he was getting thousands of requests from people who wanted accessible vehicles but who couldn’t afford to purchase them. He wanted to be able to help everyone who needed an accessible vehicle, but he recognized that was an impossible dream.  So, he created The Ralph Braun Foundation as a non-profit and a way to offer grants to as many people as possible and to help try and bridge the gap between the people who couldn’t afford a vehicle and the need for an accessible vehicle.

The requirements are that the purchase of a vehicle must be made through (more…)


Individual Student Planning – Planning Transition from Special Education Classes to General Education Settings

“Before a student moves from a self-contained special education class to a general education setting in his or her neighborhood school for the first time, the school system support staff will need to initiate a planning process to ensure that the supports and services are in place when the student starts school. The planning process initially involves the family, the “sending” staff (current teachers of the student), and (more…)


School Behavior – Strategies & Resources

The website holds a host of resources on multiple diagnoses and their related behaviors.  Suggestions for classroom and home abound.  Leslie Packer has compiled a valuable list of recommendations for various scenarios and situations related to behaviors based in neurological conditions.  Parents and educators, you’ll want to bookmark this one!

From Leslie Packer –

“Over the last 20 years, many children and teens with neurological disabilities have told me, “It would be easier for me if I was in a wheelchair or blind. At least then my teachers and classmates might be more understanding.”

Knowing that most educators welcome practical knowledge and tools that they can use, I created this site to help educators learn about a number of neurological disorders that may impair a student’s functioning and that can occasionally create chaos in your classroom. On this site, you will find (more…)


Champions Club

ChampionsClubChampions Club is a specially designed developmental area for kids, youth, and adults with special needs. Our goal was to develop a program that would meet the developmental needs of children in four important ways, SPIRITUALLY, INTELLECTUALLY, MENTALLY, and PHYSICALLY. Our focus was on spiritual growth through God’s Word, developing the intellect of each participant through the five senses, educationally through various learning tools, as well as engaging the child physically during active gross motor fun. We can adapt Champions Clubs to (more…)


Hints for Being an Engaged Father

Hints for being engaged dads. Even though my girls are 16 and 10, they still love to have Jeff read to them.

“The impact that engaged fathers have on significantly reducing at-risk-behavior in their children has been well documented. Additionally, fathers who are physically and emotionally engaged lead to (more…)