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Let’s talk about community inclusion!

Home Forums Community Discussions Let’s talk about community inclusion!

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    Hello! I wanted to start this thread to talk about the extremely important issue of Inclusion. I’m curious to know where you might see inclusion of children with complex needs happening in your community? I am also curious to know where you might be seeing a lack of inclusion happening in your community?
    I live in Eugene, where we are lucky to have an amazing Martial Arts program that is extremely inclusive of children with complex needs called Duer’s ATA Martial Arts. I have a young friend on the Autism Spectrum who grew up taking classes at Duar’s. Watching this fine young man benefit from his experience of inclusion has been truly amazing. He is now a 19 year old Black Belt, and assists the staff in teaching the younger students. His self confidence and sense of belonging have sored throughout this process.
    Sadly, I know that not all Martial Arts programs are created equally or equitably. I recently spoke to a parent in another city here in Oregon, who’s son with complex needs was not supported in his karate class. When mom asked for accomodations or a refund, the program director refused. I believe it is the responsibility of all programs and service providers to accomodate and include those with complex needs, whether they are government funded or not. I am interested in discussing how we might be able to encourage and support this progression in all of our communitees.
    Thanks for joining in on the conversation!


    When my daughter was younger and in grade school, I became a scout leader. I knew it was the only way she would join. She did and stay through to her junior year. She would share that it wasn’t for girls like her. I showed her that girls like her are exactly perfect for scouts. I had an inclusive troop, perfect for girls that were quiet introverts, advocates, scientists, you get the picture. I had a troop of girls from all over not just assigned community. We built projects that the guided and shared safe spaces to just connect. Those girls tayed connected even past when it was considered cool to be a “scout”. We weren’t the most adventurous or wilderness centered. But these girls stayed and supported each other and learned. It was a great group. Inclusion matters so much.


    It is so great to hear about the inclusive martial arts and Girl Scout troop. My son, who is on the autism spectrum, has had both good and challenging experiences in activities, and we never did find any that were specifically designed to be inclusive. It was hard to figure out what activities would suit a kid easily overwhelmed by noise and light. Ice hockey was amazing for him when he was younger. He learned skating and basic skills. The coaches seemed to recognize his differences, and were patient without being patronizing. I think of that as casual inclusion, and I honor all the adults who recognize and accept differences. Still, he dropped out after sixth grade, because competition was too intense for him, with sounds and conversations that made no sense. For him, casual activities were stressful. So in the summer we tried to find fun classes like cartoon drawing. That way, there was structure but entertainment too.


    I would have loved to have been in that Girl Scout group Modmom78! What a fantastic example of inclusion.
    My son, who is Blind and Autistic, is also very easily overwhelmed by certain sensory stimuli. He prefers to spend a lot of time in his cozy quiet home where he can truly relax. I have been really excited to see how online classes and groups have made inclusion more possible and comfortable for the sensory sensitive home bodies who might not otherwise want to participate. Technology is such a win when it comes to creating more opportunities for inclusion.


    My son has struggled with inclusion his whole school career thus far. He’s in 8th grade and JUST NOW finding a place that he can be himself and feel included in almost all of his classes and groups. However, from Kindergarten to 6th grade it was a NIGHTMARE. Schools would bully and isolate him. He would be kicked out of classes over the smallest things (to include using the bathroom too long). I would get harassing phone calls from the principle himself because my son missed too many days at school despite the reason being for mental/physical health appointments- all of which was arranged AND approved by the very same principle in the beginning of the school year. It has been a rough ride. I know not everywhere is like that but the school system has been one of the worst places my family has had to deal with to fight for inclusion.


    Those groups all sound amazing, I come from a more rural area and inclusion is not really there. It is rather disheartening, I have always wanted to promote more inclusion but I also have yet to find something that I have seen my kiddo has been passionate about to “include” him, he is very into introversion and avoiding groups and people, so it always felt counterintuitive to force “inclusion” when he didn’t seem to care, even though I cared.
    I believe that when it happens organically and the kiddos/adults are just as welcoming into those spaces and encourage accommodations is what makes it work. It’ll fail (from my standpoint) if I try to make my kiddo fit into a space that he would rather not to begin with.
    I would then be the momma living vicariously through my kiddo and not letting him grow into the human that he is, and trying to make him live to appease me.

    With that being said, I think the best idea I have about it. Is to help have a resource that fundraises and promotes inclusion by aiding groups, clubs, sports programs that are going to allow individuals with special needs use the funds to help accommodate the kiddo into participating to their best abilities. There should also be legislation that promotes and validates the allowing for any abilities to join and be accommodated into the spaces and not just allowing for any type of discrimination to happen with or without validity because most often it stems from closed minds rather than wanting to bring difference into the spaces.
    I often always wonder what kind of world would this be, if differences were allowed and accommodated, celebrated and not shunned in all spaces and by all.. would it really be a possibility?

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