The purpose of this session is to demonstrate ways that early care and education programs across the country have included infants and toddlers with significant disabilities through close collaboration among family members, early interventionists, and early care and education service providers. The facilitation team should have direct experience making adaptations and accommodations for children with significant disabilities. Facilitators should share some of their personal examples of what inclusion can look like, while emphasizing the fact that each child and family is unique and that adaptations and accommodations must be individualized.
Another important message is that early care and education staff already have many of the skills required to include infants and toddlers with significant disabilities, but inclusion requires that early care and education staff collaborate closely with families and early interventionists. Inclusion involves early care and education staff sharing their day-to-day knowledge of a child with early interventionists, who, in turn, share their specialized expertise in meeting the child’s unique needs with early care and education staff.
In some states the funding systems for early intervention services only pay for direct contact with children. This creates barriers to communication and collaboration. Although collaboration becomes challenging in these circumstances, it is still possible to work together to find creative ways to address barriers when those involved are committed to quality services for young children and their families. This session builds on “Session 7: Getting Started.” The facilitation team may refer to the Inclusion Planning Checklists that were used in that session to reinforce the importance of planning that is discussed in this session.
*Before beginning the session, prepare for the segment called “Making Adaptations and Accommodations in Inclusive Settings.” In this activity, small groups are assigned two of the six routines to discuss. To facilitate clear directions for the activity, trainers can label 5x8-inch index cards (or Post-It® notes) with two routines as follows:
Two cards listing:
Eating and Drinking
Playing and Learning
Changing and Pottying
Playing and Learning
You will give one index card (listing two routines) to each small group. Assuming you have six groups, two groups will have the same routines to discuss.