I was chatting with our librarian the other day and she mentioned that one of the reasons she loves my class is because it gives them a peer group. It's so true. Although we want them to be with their typical peers, no one can deny the power of being around people that truly 'get' you.
Yesterday while they were suppose to be decorating paper gingerbread men so we could count and graph the circles, triangles, and squares they each used, Magical and another friend were busy giggling with one another. From an outsider's perspective (outsider being anyone but the two of them) they were not making any sense at all. But they were having an intense back and forth conversation- something they are both working on. Without any adult prompts they were listening and responding to each other without changing the silly topic, and were having a ball doing it. Not all children "get" Magical. They may be nice, share and talk to him, but what I witnessed yesterday was true friendship. The kind of friendship where you get in trouble with the teacher because you both are so invested in the conversation that you forget to do your work.
At the end of the day I was walking one of my almost non-verbal students out to kiss and ride when we ran into another of my almost non-verbal students. Their eyes lit up when they spotted each other. There were hugs, cheers, hellos and more hugs even though they'd just seen each other forty minutes before.
I love my class.
Yes, there's still a place for pull-out sessions and rooms. It does give special needs kids a peer group where having a disability isn't unusual. I'd guess the pendulum that has swung heavily towards inclusion in recent years may begin edging back the other way a bit in the years to come.
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