Five Reasons to Continue Literacy Instruction at Any Age

My family loves to read.  My husband reads classic novels and mysteries for relaxation.  Our son reads history and sci-fi fantasy with a passion.  I like to read history as well as non-fiction about culture and life around the globe.  I simply cannot imagine a life without reading.  Yet, “a national survey found that 43% of U.S. adults (an estimated 56 million people) do not possess the necessary literacy skills to fully participate in contemporary society” (Mellard, 2013, p. 13).

Did you catch that phrase, “to fully participate”?

Literacy is vital to inclusion. In fact, five research-based reasons for continuing literacy instruction among adolescent and young adult students with special needs are:

  1. Literacy can increase social interactions, leading to a greater sense of belonging (Forts & Luckasson, 2011)
  2. Literacy facilitates knowledge about healthy choices for physical well-being (Taggart & McKendry, 2009)
  3. Literacy creates access to recreation and leisure activities (van Kraayenoord, 1994)
  4. Literacy opens up opportunities for more education and employment, which can lead to economic stability (deFur & Runnells, 2014)
  5. Literacy empowers active citizen participation in the democratic process (deFur & Runnells, 2014)

While not comprehensive, this list is a pretty good description of what it means to fully participate, which is what inclusive education is all about.

The challenge for educators, however, is how to support literacy acquisition among adolescents and young adults who thus far have not reached this goal.  To state the obvious, giving up on literacy instruction is NOT the way to achieve this goal. A good beginning is an educational system that persists across all grade levels to provide literacy instruction to students who struggle to read as well as those who need extensive support. Adult literacy research highlights the importance of differentiated instruction matched to student needs and motivations for learning (Mellard, 2013)—like one might see in a middle and high school multi-tiered system of support.

If you aren’t quite sold on the idea that literacy instruction can and should continue for adolescent and young adult students who need the most extensive support, I recommend listening to Drs. Kinas-Jerome and Ainsworth’s recent SWIFT Unscripted podcast.  Their conversation about why and how they support literacy acquisition inspired me to look again at the research, and to reaffirm the importance of continuing literacy instruction for students of any age or need for support.



deFur, S. H., & Runnells, M. M. (2014). Validation of the adolescent literacy and academic behavior self-efficacy survey. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 40(3), 255-266.

Forts, A. M., & Luckasson, R. (2011). Reading, writing, and friendship: Adult implications of effective literacy instruction for students with intellectual disability. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 36(3-4), 121-125.

Mellard, D. (2013). Observations on providing effective instructon for adults with low literacy.  Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Spring, 13-16.

Taggart, L., & McKendry, L. (2009). Developing a mental health promotion booklet for young people with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Practice, 12(10), 27.

van Kraayenoord, C. E. (1994). Literacy for adults with an intellectual disability in Australia. Journal of Reading, 37(7), 608-610.


By Kari Woods

Photo of blog authorMs. Woods manages communications and product development for SWIFT Education Center in the Life Span Institute at the University of Kansas.

Six Successes and Ten Strategies: Students on Alternate Assessments in Equity-Based Inclusive Education

The Cecil County team of committed educators are continually asking the question, “How do we promote membership, participation, and learning for all students in general education classrooms?”  We are seeing positive results by way of increased socialization, communication, decreases in behaviors, and evidence that students are accessing and learning grade-level curriculum!  Consider the following examples:

A first-grade student with autism (formerly on track for alternate assessment) is now doing grade-level work and the paraprofessional is supporting the class as a whole, rather than acting solely as a 1:1 support for this student.  What made the difference? Educators hold high expectations for the student and ensure she is a fully participating member in the general education instruction.

A breakthrough moment occurred for a sixth-grade student with challenging behavior when the teachers created alternative pathways to the regular curriculum instead of an alternate curriculum taught with different materials in a separate part of the room.  The student was treated as a full-time member and felt a sense of belonging, and the challenging behaviors decreased.

In a kindergarten class, a five-year-old who does not speak with his voice is in general education 100% of the time.  As a full-time member of the class, his peers provide support for him to participate in whole-group instruction, and he has moved from running around the room to participating in classroom routines without paraeducator support.

Another student in kindergarten who did not use her voice to communicate, and whose behaviors challenged the educators, is now fully included and using augmentative and alternative communication  with core vocabulary connected to the classroom curriculum and routines.  She is now also beginning to use her voice to express herself.

In fifth grade, an 11-year-old boy with significant disabilities who does not speak with his voice was in a general education class, but existed as an “island in the back of the room,” working on alternate activities.  Educators now adapt materials to grade-level standards and he is included in general education classroom routines. The special education teacher and general education teacher collaborate to address the student’s needs and the student is successfully learning grade level curriculum.

A third-grade student with autism was receiving all of his education—except science and social studies—outside of the classroom.  He moved from part-time participation in general education with expectations for alternative outcomes to full time-membership in the general education curriculum.  He is now following a general diploma track!

Cecil County strives to achieve membership, participation, and learning for students with significant disabilities in many ways. Here are ten strategies related to the student successes described above:

  • Students attend the school ordinarily attended by children in their local community.
  • Student are members of age-appropriate general education classrooms, which includes their names on class lists, job lists, and so forth.
  • The school delivers related services to the students primarily in general education classrooms and/or during times of the day that coincide with the emphasized skills.
  • Natural supports such as peers, classroom teachers, and other members of the school community are available to provide assistance, scaffold interactions, give encouragement, and develop social relationships/friendships.
  • Communication materials and instruction, including AAC devices, are provided to students who need them to communicate content and messages that are similar to their classmates’.
  • Students participate in the same instructional routines as their classmates: whole-class, small group, partners, one-on-one, etc.
  • In small group activities, students are supported to share information, take notes, and socialize. In whole-class discussions, students are supported to brainstorm, call out answers, take notes, and engage in social side talk.
  • Students transition between classes with other students, arriving and leaving at the same time.
  • Students are supported to complete assignments and other work products commensurate with their peers and aligned with the grade-level curriculum.
  • Students demonstrate classroom-based learning through a variety of methods monitored by the classroom teacher and based on high expectations of all class members.

These successes are the direct result of administrative support for equity-based inclusion, collaboration among educators, partnerships with the families, and attention to full-time membership, participation, and learning.

-Michael McSheehan, SWIFT Technical Assistance Coordinator 

Photo of blog author.Michael McSheehan serves as the Coordinator of Technical Assistance for the School-wide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Center, which was established in 2012. He is a Project Director at the University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability and National Center on Inclusive Education. Prior to working with the SWIFT Center, Michael led a variety of state and federally funded initiatives to advance research, policy, and practice in inclusive education, alternate assessment, collaborative teaming, and Response to Intervention (RtI). For example, he was a developer, researcher, and co-author of The Beyond Access Model, an intensive supports planning model for teams working with students with significant disabilities. Michael also helped lead a five-year, state-wide project to develop and implement a Response-to-Intervention model for academic and behavioral supports with seven elementary schools and five school districts in New Hampshire.

Image of rainbow.

Rainbow Connection

Educators often wonder how well they can provide appropriate educational services to all students. Can it be that sometimes students’ needs are too intensive and it becomes an undue burden for schools to provide reasonable accommodations? There’s always a lot of fear. Albeit challenging, it is possible when a creative parent and a passionate student connect with a willing teacher to work toward inclusion.

Allow me to introduce you to Magger Chen, a talented young lady from Taiwan. Magger has Nemaline Rod Myopathy, which is a type of rare disorder that leads to rod-like structured muscle cell. Like many individuals with rod myopathy, Magger experiences muscle weakness, hypotonia, and difficulties in speech and swallowing. She does require extensive supports—power chair, medical ventilator, other assistive technology devices, and a personal assistant to help with transfer and position so she can fully participate in daily living activities. Sometimes it takes her seven hours a day just to consume food.

Is school an option for her?

Despite the fact that Magger was passionate about learning and interacting with friends, her health condition made her vulnerable to infection, especially when she was younger. In middle school, Magger was homeschooled with an arrangement to attend Science class at a local middle school. Magger’s mom, Evelyn, often spent two hours just to help her get ready to attend one 40-minute session. The extensive care giving demand eventually took a toll on both Evelyn and Magger. Moreover, the limited time in class prevented Magger from having meaningful interaction with her peers. Evelyn and Magger requested live streamed session for the Science class so Magger could watch and learn from home. However, the teacher agreed to only a set-angle, one-way broadcast. The limited access to curriculum and peer interaction was still not what Magger was looking for.

Fortunately, a Science teacher from another school district heard about their experiences through a common friend and reached out to Evelyn. The teacher said even if she had no idea how to setup for tele-education, she would love to have Magger to be part of her class.

The first class was somehow chaotic. Because the teacher was not familiar with iPad, she really had difficulties finding an optimal setup for the camera. Nevertheless, she was determined to include Magger as part of the class. That resolution rippled out to influence the students, who ended up seeing Magger as part of their class, taking Magger on a virtual tour in the lab, even setting up prism and iPad in the hallway so Magger could be part of the experiment on refraction.

That rainbow she and her peers made was—and still is—according to Magger, the most beautiful experiment she’s ever done.

This magical journey continued. Magger made a surprise appearance in class the last session. Her friends even helped her to her designated seat (where they usually set up the iPad). This was a few years ago. Magger now attends Taipei Tech School, majoring in Interaction Design. The school uses multiple devices to broadcast multi-camera live video on her phone so she still can learn from any suitable position. With her AAC device and phone, she also gives guest lectures on a regular basis.

Because of one science teacher who was willing to try, we all know how much potential she has now. Her mom attributed her successful college life to their creative problem-solving skills (from transition between classrooms to utilizing assistive technology) to this experience. Nowadays, I would introduce Magger like this: Magger Chen is an active Facebook user, empathetic animal lover, fearless fashion designer, and she keeps track of all the trendy topics (including mobile games). With pen tablet and stylus, she draws all kinds of professional and beautiful illustrations.

I just can’t wait to see how she would paint her future with rainbow color.

An elementary-age girl walks with her arm around a fellow classmate.

Authentic Relationships and All Means All: Observations from a Paraeducator

There are so many things I genuinely love about my job as a paraeducator in an inclusive school: 

  • working with exceptional students —with and without disabilities
  • working with talented teachers — both generalists and specialists
  • working with involved families — especially those from diverse backgrounds

But as the holidays approach, I’m taking a step back and observing what I am thankful for. 

During our school’s harvest celebration, one fact stood out to me among all of the academic expectations, behavior protocol, and daily schedules. Our school is truly embracing All means All.  One way this fact is evident is through the observation of non-structured peer interactions. As the class prepared for their celebration, I observed, listened, and took mental notes of the interactions that demonstrate friendships among students with and without disabilities and how these interactions embrace All means All.  All of the students in the room were fourth graders and they all were interacting as fourth graders do: laughter, giggles, comparing outfits, making crafts. “It’s working,” I thought.  

Guiding authentic peer relationships is an essential ingredient to All means All. 

As paraeducators, we have an important role facilitating and showing, by example, ways for students to form genuine friendships. Stepping back and listening for statements among students such as “first…then,” “I’m proud of you,” “Can I trust you?” “When you…I feel…” reinforce our knowledge that classmates are developing authentic relationships.

Working with students and teaching and modeling for them how to communicate so that all students feel included and valued is such a bonus to being a paraeducator.  As a paraeducator, I believe our goals are to: 

  • Teach with kindness and respect for all students. The rest of the students are observing and learning from us throughout the day.
  • Give all classmates the tools and strategies that you use and are familiar with to encourage authentic and respectful relationships among all students. A paraeducator is a facilitator toward success.

During a recent class party, I introduced myself to a parent, whose child has formed a true relationship with a student who requires more intensive supports, and we had a brief conversation. I mentioned that I like to watch her daughter interact with this student because it comes from an authentic, genuine, and kind heart. With that in mind, I also shared with Mom that in the beginning of the year, I had spoken to her daughter and other friends and classmates reminding them that ‘their classmate is not a baby. She is nine years old and in fourth grade just like you.  She is excited to have friends and have friendships just like yours and probably shares many common interests once you get to know each other.’  Mom’s response was an excited, “That’s exactly what she said to me at home. I was wondering where she had this insight.”

Being a facilitator for all students in an inclusive classroom trickles outward beyond the classroom to home and social environments. It’s wonderful to see inclusion working within the classroom and school, during related services, and during lunch and recess; but isn’t one of our goals to give confidence to all students so that they can bring this knowledge into the world outside of school and carry the knowledge and insight through to their teenage and adult lives?  Our students today will be the future teachers, parents, policymakers, and doctors in our society. By embracing All means All within our schools, we can almost guarantee for the future a more respectful and welcoming world!

For this, I am truly thankful for the genuine, authentic, kind, and real relationships that I watch grow during the school day among ALL students.

– Janet Gnall

Headshot of author of blog post.I am currently a para-educator at our local elementary school. After being a stay at home mom and keeping up my teaching certificate I decided to head back to the classroom. I felt a connection with the inclusionary model which I am now experiencing. My family and I are saturated with hockey and love the winter! Bring on the snow and ice 🙂

Opening Doors

Sometimes you hear an adult talk about a teacher or an adult that changed their life. I know that Mrs. Preto is that for Sabrina.

Kindergarten Teacher Predicts Life of Possibility

We’ve come a long way in making sure ALL kids are having typical experiences in schools, recreation, employment, and life in general, but I remember a few years ago when it wasn’t the norm.  My son, Andrew, was the first student in our town with extensive support needs to be fully included in regular classes throughout his school years.  It was amazing to watch, especially because no one believed it could possibly work for someone with his list of labels.  No one, that is, except for his family and his classmates.

In thinking about what made the struggle for equality in education worth it, I remembered a letter I received from Andrew’s kindergarten teacher at the end of that school year.  It was such an important message that I still have the original copy safely stored in a folder that holds important school memories.  It was this letter that let me know for sure that Andrew could learn from and make friends with his typical school peers, and that if he was to be a welcome and involved member of our community as an adult, he belonged in his neighborhood school and general education classes throughout his academic life.  We have never strayed from this position since the moment I learned that his future did not need to include the majority of recommendations for a life of segregation and specialized intensive services we received from professionals in his earliest years.  Once we learned about inclusive education, we turned every idea about “what Andrew coudn’t do, would never do, and shouldn’t do” into a life of possibility of how Andrew “could be, should be, and would always be” welcomed and supported to be a contributing member of his educational community. In 1989, this letter from Mrs. Willis, his kindergarten teacher, helped us shaped our vision:

“June 14, 1989

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dixon,

It is report card time in kindergarten and it is important to me to include Andrew and you in my reporting.

Andrew can and does work and play well with others, Andrew is learning to share and take turns, Andrew waits better for his turn, Andrew shows great progress in adjusting to new situations, Andrew is listening better, Andrew’s attention span has lengthened. Andrew is able to take directions from teachers, aides, and children. Andrew uses manipulation and observation to learn. Andrew participates and enjoys music and art and physical education activities.

Andrew has shown so much growth in skills. Beyond that, however, are the tremendous gains he has made as an individual and as just one individual in our very lively group. I do NOT take lightly that gain at all!

Andrew has brought joy and understanding and fun and love to all of us. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to work with Andrew and facilitate some of the gains.

I also am glad to have had the opportunity to help Andrew become just one of the kids and you (as parents) become just another set of kindergarten parents.  I share your happiness with both these facts.

Andrew has helped me remember just what teaching is all about. Thank you for sending me such a delightful reminder.

Barbara Willis”


Andrew is grown now.  He graduated from high school with his class, attended college classes, owns his own business, and lives in his own home—all with the supports necessary to be successful.  Those supports included some excellent teachers; many good school and family friends; people paid to support him so that he might participate in all situations; neighbors; co-workers; community members; and of course, his family.

None of this would have been possible without the dream and vision that grew in us from that original note from his kindergarten teacher who saw the person we saw—a 6-year old boy with the  desire to live a full life—and the community of friends and classmates he has gathered on his journey.

– Beth Dixon

Photo of blog author.Beth, a parent of four children and grandparent of four, is interested in equality for all people in all areas that affect our lives–education, social/friendship ties, work environments, housing options, recreation opportunities, and more. Beth enjoys organizing and presenting best practices to participants at the NH Leadership Series. Watching people change and broaden their expectations for themselves and/or their children is exciting to her–but even more exciting is watching them become involved in their communities and in public life. Beth Dixon was honored in May 2011 with the Presidential Award of Excellence, an award given annually to five staff members who have demonstrated excellence through outstanding performance in their positions and a record of dedication to, and a concern for, the University community. Throughout the past 20 plus years of Beth’s tenure at the IOD, she has been responsible for growing a cornerstone program of the organization, the NH Leadership Series. As a result of Beth’s leadership and organizational talents, over 800 individuals with disabilities, their families, and graduate students have been trained in evidence-based practices to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families, and their communities.

Teaching Real Life Functional Skills (in English & Spanish)

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the most important skills you use to navigate through your day. What comes to mind? Is it the way you neatly make your bed? Cross the street? Provide the correct change when you purchase your morning coffee? Answer “yes” or “no” to basic questions asked of you? Or perhaps getting yourself dressed or using the microwave to heat up your lunch? I’m doubtful these are the skills that come to mind.

In the world of special education, we used to think that making a bed or change for a dollar, folding a napkin, and learning to prepare simple foods were important life skills that students with disabilities needed to learn. We also believed these skills were best taught in a segregated, functional, life-skills classroom and through community-based experiences separate from their peers without disabilities. Are these really the authentic life skills we want students to learn, practice, and realize in their lives?

A more generic and better understood view of functional life skills are those skills that assist us in managing and living a better quality of life. These are the skills that help us accomplish our dreams, live to our full potential, and exist as contributing members of our communities. There is no definitive list of functional life skills, and certain skills may be more or less relevant depending on life circumstances, culture, beliefs, age, geographic location, etc. A broader, more widely, accepted definition of important life skills are those skills that allow us to:

  • Get along well with all kinds of people including individuals whose backgrounds and experiences are different from our own.
  • Develop and maintain friendships and meaningful relationships.
  • Work collaboratively with others.
  • Identify, learn, and practice passions, interests, and talents to assist in making important life decisions such as career choices and motivating hobbies.
  • Show up on time and be prepared for whatever is required.
  • Communicate thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings in ways that are clearly understood.
  • Read material that is stimulating and/or provides opportunities to learn.

If we can agree that the above list is more representative of “functional life skills” than making a bed or change for a dollar, where might be the best place for students to learn these skills? Thirty plus years of educational research informs us that by immersing students in the richness and diversity of an inclusive educational experience, students are more likely to learn important life skills such as communication, literacy, appropriate social behaviors, and following typical routines and schedules. An inclusive educational experience throughout one’s academic career naturally provides adequate role models, age appropriate instruction, access to engaging information, high expectations, and the opportunity to learn about and get along with the diversity that makes up the human experience.

So where do students with disabilities learn skills like making a bed and change for a dollar? These skills can best be taught in the environments and typical routines in which they are most likely to be used. How many different ways can you think of to teach someone how to make a bed during typical routines (assuming educational teams believe this is a high priority for learning)? When we open our minds to creative possibilities for teaching and learning, and rely on routines that are typical for all students, the possibilities can be endless. For example, learning to make a bed is best taught in the morning after a person wakes, or during camp or an afterschool/weekend/summer job or volunteer opportunity at a hospital or nursing home. Making change for a dollar can happen in the school store, purchasing lunch or snacks in the cafeteria, or in a marketing class in high school.

Lifelong habits of learning and working are inherently promoted and developed through participation in typical educational experiences and traditional rites of passages. These experiences lead to connections, career and educational opportunities, increased social relationships, and a greater likelihood for entering adulthood as valued, contributing members of communities. Students with disabilities and their families must actively begin planning for the future well before the end of high school. For all students, setting goals and having positive dreams evolve out of a wide variety of school experiences including classes, extracurricular activities, internships, community service, relationships, and after school jobs. Inclusion and participation in school activities helps students better understand what they want for their future.

After 30 plus years of research, we are learning that not only are students with disabilities learning more and learning faster when they are educated in the general education classroom and typical routines with support; students without disabilities are also excelling in schools where All Means All.


Cierra tus ojos por un momento y piensa en las habilidades más importantes que utilizas para navegar a lo largo de tu día. ¿Qué te viene en mente? ¿La forma en que cuidadosamente tiendes tu cama? ¿Cruzar la calle? ¿Proporcionar el cambio correcto al comprar un café en la mañana? ¿Responder “sí” o “no” a las preguntas básicas que te hacen? ¿O quizás vestirte a ti mismo o usar el microondas para calentar tu almuerzo? Dudo que éstas sean las habilidades que te vienen a la mente.

En el mundo de la educación especial, solíamos pensar que tender la cama o cambiar un dólar, doblar una servilleta, y aprender a preparar comidas sencillas eran importantes habilidades para la vida que los estudiantes con discapacidades necesitaban aprender. También creíamos estas habilidades se enseñaban mejor en un salón de clases segregado y funcional para enseñar habilidades para vivir y a través de experiencias comunitarias aparte de sus compañeros sin discapacidades. ¿Son éstas realmente las habilidades para la vida auténtica que queremos que los estudiantes aprendan, practiquen, y hagan en sus vidas?

Una visión más genérica y mejor comprendida de las habilidades funcionales de la vida proclama que son aquellas que nos ayudan a gestionar y vivir una mejor calidad de vida. Son las habilidades que nos ayudan a lograr nuestros sueños, a vivir a nuestro máximo potencial, y a existir como miembros activos de nuestras comunidades. No existe una lista definitiva de las habilidades funcionales de la vida, y algunas de ellas pueden ser más o menos relevantes dependiendo de las circunstancias, cultura, creencias, edad, ubicación geográfica, etc. Una definición más amplia y mayormente aceptada de las habilidades importantes para la vida nos dice que son las que nos permiten:

  • Llevarnos bien con todo tipo de personas, incluyendo aquellas cuyos antecedentes y experiencias son diferentes a las nuestras.
  • Desarrollar y mantener amistades y relaciones significativas.
  • Trabajar en colaboración con otros.
  • Identificar, aprender y practicar las pasiones, intereses y talentos para ayudarnos a tomar decisiones importantes en la vida, tales como la elección de una carrera y de aficiones motivadoras.
  • Llegar puntualmente y estar preparado para lo que sea necesario.
  • Comunicar pensamientos, ideas, opiniones y sentimientos de manera que sean fácilmente comprensibles.
  • Leer material que sea estimulante y/o proporcione oportunidades para aprender.

Si estamos de acuerdo en que la lista anterior es más representativa de las “habilidades funcionales de la vida” que tender una cama o cambiar un dólar, ¿cuál es el mejor lugar para que los estudiantes aprendan estas habilidades? Más de treinta años de investigación educativa nos informa que mediante la inmersión de los estudiantes en la riqueza y diversidad de una experiencia educativa inclusiva, estos son más propensos a aprender habilidades importantes de la vida tales como la comunicación, la alfabetización y los comportamientos sociales apropiados, y también a seguir las rutinas y los horarios cotidianos. Una experiencia educativa inclusiva a lo largo de la carrera académica ofrece naturalmente modelos de conducta adecuados, instrucción apropiada para la edad, acceso a información interesante, expectativas altas, y la oportunidad de aprender y llevarse bien con la diversidad que conforma la experiencia humana.

Entonces, ¿dónde aprenden los estudiantes con discapacidades habilidades tales como tender una cama y cambiar un dólar? Estas habilidades se pueden enseñar mejor en los ambientes y rutinas típicas en las que es más probable que sucedan. ¿Cuántas maneras diferentes se te ocurren para enseñar a alguien cómo tender una cama durante las rutinas típicas (suponiendo que los equipos educativos crean que esto es una alta prioridad para el aprendizaje)? Cuando abrimos nuestra mente a posibilidades creativas para la enseñanza y el aprendizaje, y nos apoyamos en rutinas típicas para todos los estudiantes, las posibilidades pueden ser innumerables. Por ejemplo, aprender a tender una cama se enseña mejor por la mañana cuando la persona se levanta, en un campamento o en un trabajo en horas después de la escuela, de fin de semana o de verano, o como voluntario en un hospital o asilo de ancianos. Cambiar un dólar puede suceder en la tienda de la escuela, comprando el almuerzo o bocadillos en la cafetería, o en una clase de mercadotecnia en la escuela secundaria.

Los hábitos de por vida de aprender y trabajar se desarrollan y promueven inherentemente a través de laparticipación en experiencias educativas típicas y en los ritos de iniciación tradicionales. Estas experiencias llevan a conexiones, a oportunidades de carrera y educación, al aumento de las relaciones sociales, y a una mayor probabilidad de entrar a la edad adulta como miembros valiosos que contribuyen a la comunidad. Los estudiantes con discapacidades y sus familias deben iniciar activamente la planificación para el futuro mucho antes de terminar la escuela secundaria. Para todos los estudiantes, el proceso de establecer metas y tener sueños positivos evoluciona a partir de una amplia variedad de experiencias escolares, incluyendo las clases, las actividades extracurriculares, las pasantías, el servicio comunitario, las relaciones, y los trabajos en horas después de la escuela. La inclusión y la participación en actividades de la escuela ayuda a los estudiantes a comprender mejor lo que desean para su futuro.

Después de 30 años de investigación, estamos aprendiendo que no sólo los estudiantes con discapacidades aprenden más y más rápido cuando se les educa en el aula de educación general y con rutinas típicas con apoyo; los estudiantes sin discapacidad también están sobresaliendo en las escuelas en donde Todos Significa Todos.

This article is reprinted from “SPEAKout,” an online, e-newsletter published by PEAK Parent Center. Visit to view the current newsletter and to access the SPEAKout archives.

– Mary Schuh

Image of blog post author.Dr. Mary Schuh has more than 25 years experience in inclusive schools and communities, family and consumer leadership , and educational systems change and has been with the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability since its inception in 1987. She directs The National Center on Inclusive Education (NCIE) at the Institute on Disability. The NCIE is a leader in the transformation of schools so that students of all abilities are successfully learning in their home schools within general education settings. Mary serves as a member of the National Leadership Consortium of The SWIFT Center. As a faculty member of the University of New Hampshire, Mary helps to prepare future teachers to welcome and engage families, and teach all students in typical school and general education environments.