Children with Disabilities

Integration Checklist: Including Children with Significant Disabilities in Head Start

Teachers who create accessible environments for children with disabilities "talk straight, look good, go with the flow, and act cool." This checklist helps disabilities coordinators, teachers, and staff members understand how to make sure children can communicate, socialize, and engage in their Head Start settings and activities. 

See PDF version: Integration Checklist

Record Y for yes or N for no on the blank before each item. If your response is N, explain what changes you will need to make. 

Talking Straight

Do you ensure that: 

  • the child has a way to communicate with classmates?
  • classmates know how to communicate with the child?
  • the child is given the opportunity to greet others in a manner similar to that of her classmates?
  • the child socializes with her classmates?
  • classmates socialize with the child?
  • the child has the opportunity to interact with adults in the room?
  • adults in the room interact with the child?
  • adults in the room (e.g., classroom teachers, volunteers, specialists) provide the same type of feedback (e.g., praise, discipline) for the child as they do for her classmates? 

If the child uses an alternative communication system, do you ensure that: 

  • the system is always available to the child?
  • the classmates know how to use it?
  • the teachers know how to use it?

Looking Good

Do you ensure that: 

  • the child has the same opportunity as all children to tend to his appearance (for example, checking appearance in a mirror)?
  • staff members tend to the child's dress and appearance throughout the day, as they do for all children?
  • clothing that is needed for activities is age appropriate (for example, napkins instead of bibs, 'cool' paint shirts?)
  • the child has a way to carry personal supplies or belongings discreetly (if this is the wish of the child or the family)?
  • staff members help the child keep his equipment (such as wheelchair, leg braces) clean throughout the day? 

Go With the Flow

Do you ensure that: 

  • the child enters the classroom at the same time as classmates?
  • the child is seated or positioned so that she can see and participate in all of the daily activities?
  • the child is seated or positioned so that classmates and teachers can easily interact with her?
  • the classmates are seated or grouped during activities so the child can easily interact with them?
  • the child is involved in the same activities as her classmates?
  • the child engages in classroom activities at the same time as everyone else?
  • the child makes transitions in the classroom at the same time as everyone else?

Acting Cool

Do you ensure that: 

  • the child is actively involved in class activities?
  • staff members encourage the child to follow the same classroom and social rules as classmates (for example, hugs only when appropriate, stays in seat when necessary)?
  • adults assist the child only when necessary to support maximum independence?
  • staff members encourage classmates to ask the child for assistance as appropriate?
  • the child uses the same or similar materials as his or her classmates during activities?
  • staff members suggest that the child bring in possessions that other children might find interesting?

*Adapted with permission of T. Vandercook and J. York. 1990. A Team Approach to Program Development and Support. In W. Stainback and S. Stainback (Eds.), Support Networks for Inclusive Schooling: Interdependent Integrated Schooling. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co. 1990.