By Jennifer Zeman
Inclusion is a word I have heard a lot, but have never really understood until recently. My oldest two kids, Kylie, 5, and Chip, 18 months, have gone to the same “big box” daycare. When it came time for Chip’s class to start moving up to Wobblers (1 to 2 year olds), all the other kids where moving up except Chip, who has Down syndrome. I asked why, and was told he could not move up with his peers until he was walking and self-feeding. Well, I knew that was going to be a while and asked if they could make an exception for him. I pointed out that in many other ways he was much easier for them to take care of than the other kids, so this could balance out. I was told no. So I let him stay with the lumpy babies for a few more months.
I then had another baby, Adam, and during my time off I found Chip a new daycare. I had been very happy with this daycare until this point, and still am happy with the care they provide my daughter. But it wasn’t working for Chip, so I found him an in-home daycare that is filled with 2- and 3-year-olds. It is a wild and crazy zoo, and I am quite sure the woman who owns it is not licensed.
But it works. Chip was not crawling or pulling up when he started there in May. By mid-July he was pulling up on everything in sight, crawling everywhere, waving bye-bye, self-feeding, and chatting. When I drop him off, all the other little kids run up to him and yell ” Chiparooroo!!” They all love him, and he gets so much great attention from the other children.
I have never been an “inclusion only” person. I feel that every child is different, and different situations might work better for different kids. In this case though, full inclusion with his peers is by far the best for Chip, and I now can say that I do understand inclusion.