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Inclusion Now Articles Issue 10

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Working for Empowerment - DEE's trip to India

Ripple School Stays Open - Inclusive school wins fight with Council

Snapshots of Possibility - New publication from the Alliance

The Unity Cru' - Conflict resolution

Children with a Soothing Touch - Primary Schools adopt peer massage programme

Making Inclusion Work for Children with Dyspraxia - Book review

Understanding Autism as a Motion Difference - Article by L Chapman

The Dignity of Risk - Book review




Working Together For Empowerment

Mumbai, July 2004
By Richard Rieser, Director, Disability Equality in Education.
For six days at the end of July disabled people and their allies from across India came together for a unique course, held at the National Resource Centre for Inclusion, Mumbai.
The collaboration between DEE and ADAPT (Able Disabled All People Together) was led by a team of disabled trainers from DEE- Jaspal Dhani, Michelle Daley, Saadia Nielson, Chris O'Mahony and myself, with disabled trainee trainers from India: Malini Chib, Nilesh Singit, Jeeja Ghosh, Ruma Kirtikar, Lucas Baretto and Dhanasekhar.
The participants were disabled people, teachers and other professionals, and parents. The 150 who took part were split into 5 groups and the course was a mixture of plenary presentations, workshops and reporting back from each group to everyone. The report backs became the high point as the course developed with each group vying with the others to make the most compelling presentations.
The Course introduced and developed ideas of inequality, religious, medical and social models of disability; finding the barriers and solutions; rights, charity and patronage; telling our own stories; designing an inclusive society; ADAPT- what's happening in India; independent living, images in the media. This led to each group 'Mapping the Path to Change'. All ideas were pulled together into a declaration on the last morning, which was presented to the Press that evening.
At the start of the course people did not know what to expect and were rather subdued. As the week wore on the disabled people in particular became full of confidence and everyone really engaged with the activities in a fun way. The ADAPT group certainly taught the trainers from the UK a great deal -They recently took a class action on new bus fleet in Mumbai to the High Court and got a ruling that 30 must be accessible.
Inclusion in the Mumbai Slums
We also learned a great deal from our hosts the National Resource Centre for Inclusion and their 17 inclusive nurseries or anganwadis, in the largest slum of 9 million people in Mumbai.
Here children who lie in poverty, including disabled children, get amazing educational opportunity in ordinary shanties and rooms throughout the slum.
The anganwadi workers were taught in this UNICEF funded project to make 2D and 3D teaching aids out of waste material so they were cost effective. Various toys and teaching materials that were used as teaching aids were charts, flip charts, flannel board, picture cards, scrapbook, pictures, lacing boards, toys, puzzles, counters beads, blocks, clay, dough, stones and shells, strings, clothes etc. They were taught how to vary the use of these to include children with physical or intellectual impairments so they could all learn and develop. The project has been a great success.
The project has been evaluated and it was found that the disabled children made as much progress as non-disabled children. The model of recruiting and training workers from, the slums and locating the nurseries in the slums with an inclusive intake is one that could be replicated in many places. Not least in India where less than 5% of the 20 million disabled children currently get any educational provision. For more information on this groundbreaking project, visit: http:// www.nrcissi.org/projects/ssiunicef/index.htm
The National Resource Centre and the Spastic Society of India are organising an international Conference inclusion conference in Delhi-North South Dialogue III 27th February to 4th March 2004.
This will be to launch the Global Alliance for Inclusive Education and to learn from each other how to make inclusion a reality across the world. Readers interested in taking part contact http://www.nrcissi.org/events/nsdialogue/nsd.html
What is ADAPT?
It is a citizens' action group that provides a common platform to highlight the problems faced by persons with disability, share personal experiences and provide practical solutions.
What are its objectives?
· To influence public policy as its affects disabled people by working in partnership on common issues.
· To provide a forum for policy and decision makers and provide information.
· To promote a wider understanding of the diverse experiences, needs and aspirations of disabled people.
· To advocate and lobby for the rights and entitlements of disabled people.
http://www.nrcissi.org/adapt/adapt.html

 

Ripple School Stays Open

The Ripple School near Deal in Kent has won its fight to stay open. Kent County Council had planned to close the primary school after Christmas, saying that it was not financially viable with only 35 pupils. The Council received more than 1200 objections to the closure.
Ripple School has been a pioneer school of mainstream inclusion, priding itself on never having turned a child away because of a disability. According to headteacher Sue Hope the ethos of the school is to value every child so that they achieve their full potential. "We aim to create an atmosphere in which children can develop their talents, confidence and self-esteem. We encourage children to look after each other and to be sensitive to the needs of each individual". Over 40% of the children attending the two-class school have varying degrees of special educational needs.
The Schools Adjudicator, Dr. Alan Billings, threw out the Council's proposal to close the school, stating:
"I was not persuaded that the LEA had given sufficient thought to the needs of some of the children should the school close. It provides a good learning environment for those children who flourish in a small school".

 

Snapshots of Possibility

I remember meeting George Flynn, Director of the Waterloo Catholic School Board in Ontario, Canada. He told the story of how he and his staff had decided to de-segregate his school system, closing all special schools and classes.
He said he had not just reformed the education system, he had transformed it. It now operated on a different value system. It had different goals. The main goal I recall was:
"To protect a child's right to imagine a better future"
I thought about this a lot. How we are conditioned to think there is only one way to organise ourselves; poverty and suffering are inevitable; we are too insignificant to make a difference; dreams are only an escape from reality. I could see as a disabled person that much of the negativity about my future came from non-disabled people being unable to imagine that I could do things in a different way to them. Likewise, it seems that a lot of negativity about inclusion comes from people being unable to imagine a school different to the school they went to. So our idea was to collect stories from schools where things were being done differently in all sorts of interesting ways, and on all sorts of important issues. Through word of mouth we identified over twenty nurseries, schools and colleges with innovative practice, visited them and wrote up examples in a book called 'Snapshots of Possibility - shining examples of inclusive education'.
On Monday 20th September the book was launched at the racecourse in Nottingham. Head teachers and supporters from a cross-section of provision came and shared their excitement and creativity as leaders of educational change in the UK. They spoke of the problems of poverty and of affluence. They talked about learning from children, turning their schools upside down, empowering young people, philosophy for five year olds, conflict resolution, friendship across divisions of race, class and ability. They painted a picture of a transformed education system just as I had heard described by George Flynn all those years ago.
We hope the publication will help spread the positive, forward thinking ideas it describes to teachers, parents, young people, politicians and policy makers, but most importantly to 'ordinary people' who will see, perhaps for the first time, why the struggle for inclusive education is of importance to each and every child.
Micheline Mason
Order your copies from The Alliance for Inclusive Education (contact details on back page)
Price: £8.50 plus £1 p&p

Snapshots - Excerpt
Bullying is stopped and people are helped with their behaviour...
Heatherbrook Primary School in Leicester decided to empower their pupils to solve their own bullying problems. They brought in outside facilitators to train 20 young people in peer mediation. Some of these young people had been bullies, or victims of bullying themselves and they were selected on interview after making an application for the course. The whole process was filmed for the BBC 'One Life' series, in a programme called 'Beating the Bullies'. One of the mediators, Jordan, aged 8, said:
"I think how it reunites people is kind of magical, because it puts the kindness back into the people that have been bullies."

The Launch:
"Inclusive practice has become more daring, more radical, more inspirational = more inclusive. How exciting and encouraging!"
"A motivational, inspirational, enjoyable, emotional day of learning. I feel I have been treated to a banquet!"
"Oh yes. We are getting there together."
"An inspiring day which has refreshed and invigorated my belief in inclusion."

 

The Unity Cru'

Young people learn about conflict resolution
The Isle of Dogs nestles into the River Thames in East London. It is an area where black and white working class people are living face to face with the new wealth of the rapidly developing Docklands areas.
The history of immigration, the poverty of the local community and the recent influx of young middle class professionals has led to class and racial tension, support for the BNP and an unsafe, violent atmosphere.
George Green's school is a large secondary school at the heart of the Isle of Dogs. When Kenny Frederick came as a new head teacher the divisions within the community were reflected in the school. The three main ethnic groups - White, Afro Caribbean and Bangladeshi - were completely separate. They did not even know each other's names.
To challenge this, Kenny imposed a seating plan on the whole school aimed at mixing up these communities so they could make connections and learn from each other. This eventually bore fruit and was accepted as a good thing by the pupils. However, it was noticed that once out of the classroom, the old divisions, tension and violence reappeared.
The school decided to try and tackle this by influencing the thinking of the 'leaders' of the young people - those who were agitating and organising trouble in the playground, but who also seemed to have the potential to change.
They were offered the chance to go to Northern Ireland to witness first hand the long-term effects of living in a divided community and to learn the skills of conflict resolution.

The first group of 40 pupils from Years 10 and 11 were taken in 2002. For many of the young people it was their first trip off the 'island'. They learned about tickets, luggage, packing clothes and helping each other. They were divided into separate groups of twelve who had to shop, cook and look after themselves on a budget of £20 a day.
The trip was highly organised, with workshops on teambuilding, drama and the facilitated sharing of the young people's own experience of living with classism and racism.
They visited the Falls Road (Catholic) and the Shankill Road (Protestant), where they met young people of their own age. These young people gave graphic and terrifying accounts of living on both sides of the conflict. What they shared in common was their sense of confusion having been born into a situation not of their own making where history is more powerful than the present.
When they returned, staff were fascinated to see if it would make any long-term difference. On their first day back, the travellers took up position in the school grounds, standing in a circle holding hands for three minutes silence. They then applauded each other and walked away. They said it was a circle of peace.
The students went on to form the 'Unity Cru', taking their own PowerPoint presentation to other schools, youth centres, conferences and the companies who had funded the project.
They now go to all the feeder schools as well as the lower school to run teambuilding and icebreaker workshops to help create an inclusive culture at an early age. They have made an anti-racist video, a CD of their own music and set up an annual inclusive football tournament.
The trips have been repeated each year, with both 'old' and new pupils. Together they are developing into powerful leaders of a safer and more understanding world.
"We have learned that violence never leads to the solution. It only leads to hurt and destruction"
Beng, Hong and Jasmina.
The Unity Cru' is another of the stories featured in the new publication 'Snapshots'.

 

Children with a soothing touch

Primary schools who have adopted a peer massage programme are seeing remarkable results. Barbara Lantin reports:
"When are we having our massage?" is not a question you would expect to hear in a primary school classroom. But if the pupils at Garden Primary School have not had their daily massage by lunchtime, they want to know why.
Before a barrage of incongruous images floods the brain, let it be said that the massages are carried out by the children on each other while fully clothed. The school, in Merton, south London, is one of about 1,000 in the country to adopt the Massage in Schools Programme (MISP) - with dramatic effects.
"When we first introduced massage as a pilot programme,
I couldn't believe the results," says head teacher Viv Tombs. "After one half term, the class that was having the massage suddenly changed. They became much more settled and more aware of each others' feelings. We saw a definite decrease in aggression and bullying. Instead of having a stream of children sent to me over the lunch break, I didn't see one child. But in the parallel class that was not having massage, nothing had changed. The children noticed it, too, and the effect just grew."
Today, every child at Garden Primary has 10 minutes of peer massage each day. So pleased is the Borough of Merton with the programme, it has introduced it to 15 other schools, with plans to include more during the next academic year.
MISP - launched five years ago by an infant massage instructor from Sweden and her Canadian colleague and now practised in many countries - is based on the belief that respectful touch can encourage self-esteem, confidence and mutual respect. Children are grouped in pairs and administer 10 minutes of simple massage strokes to each other on the head, neck, shoulders and back.
"They ask permission to do the massage and check that the pressure is OK," says Carol Trower, a former health visitor and now co-ordinator of MISP in Britain. "The ethos is as important as the massage itself. The child has a choice about whether to join in and that is something they do not usually get at school. This empowers them and gives them confidence in other area of their lives."
Children who participate report feeling happier at school, having more friends, working harder and experiencing improved concentration. So what is going on?
"Massage stimulates the activity of the vagus nerve [one of the 12 cranial nerves], which slows down and relaxes the central nervous system," says Dr Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine, a world centre for research into therapeutic touch.
"This, in turn, slows the heart rate and blood pressure and the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Changes in EEG patterns also suggest increased relaxation and attentiveness, so classroom performance improves. The increase in serotonin and dopamine levels improves mood state."
The Touch Research Institutes' database lists dozens of clinical trials demonstrating that a wide range of conditions can be improved by touch therapy, including childhood behaviour problems, mental health, anxiety and sleeplessness. Research also suggests that massage increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress and can encourage social bonding. Rats deprived of oxytocin make poor parents and their offspring fail to thrive. Observers report increased social cohesion among classes that participate in the Massage in Schools Programme.
"In one class that had a large ethnic mix and some communication problems, we used massage instead of language during 'circle time'," says Jean Barlow, a teacher consultant specialising in behaviour and development with Rochdale education authority. "At the end of six weeks, the children in this class played better with each other than before and left nobody out. Children who had been isolated before were included. Once children begin to touch one another, barriers come down and they find it easier to be friendly."
This has had such a noticeable effect on bullying that MISP has been invited to participate in the Department for Education's anti-bullying workshops.
"Some children have limited social skills and don't know how to communicate except roughly," says Trower. "Massage seems to give children the language with which to take
responsibility for their own actions and their own wellbeing. It enhances their self-respect and they become calmer, more confident and more co-operative. They have to give permission to another child to touch them, which is very empowering. At Garden Primary, when one child started hitting another, the one who was being hit turned round and said: 'You don't have my permission to touch me like that'."
Classroom performance is also affected, particularly among pupils with difficulties.
"Those who struggle most have improved most," says Tombs. "With these children, how they do academically is related to social wellbeing. If they feel secure, they learn better and we have seen several special needs children move ahead since we introduced massage."
At Claremont Community Primary school in Blackpool, where a number of pupils have emotional difficulties, head teacher Pat Wills has noticed a calmness spreading through the building since massage was introduced.
"We have children who have been very angry and are now able to manage that anger themselves. Some of them would have had to leave and go to special schools. This has helped to keep them in mainstream schooling."
Barlow is convinced that many social and behavioural difficulties that cause schools such problems could be smoothed away if every primary school child had 10 minutes of massage a day. "It would improve their feelings about themselves and their relationships with one another. They would be calmer, happier and more ready to learn.
Barbara Lantin
Article Copyright: Telegraph Group Ltd
Massage in Schools: Tel: 07773 044282, or see www.massageinschools.com
The massage programme at Garden School is another of the stories featured in 'Snapshots'.

 

Making Inclusion Work for Children with Dyspraxia

Children with hidden or invisible impairments are often the children who have the greatest difficulty in being valued or knowing that they are truly included. People are conditioned to feel sympathy, or even pity towards people who look disabled - who use wheelchairs or cannot see for example.
But towards people who look just fine but cannot do the things which are asked of them, one is likely to encounter a very different response - impatience, criticism, ridicule, rejection, even contempt.
These responses will of course make the person feel much worse about themselves, lose confidence and self-esteem and often develop a whole set of behaviours which give even more fuel to their tormentors.
Dyspraxia, like Dyslexia, is a common hidden impairment. Although it has existed for a long time, it is comparatively recently that the collection of difficulties such children struggle with have been diagnosed and understood as an impairment which makes many of the demands of ordinary life almost impossible feats.
Dyspraxia is still mysterious in cause but consistent in effect. Children appear to have difficulties planning and organising purposeful movement. This can show itself in many different ways. Commonly children have difficulties with balance and co-ordination and may appear clumsy or accident-prone. They may have difficulties regulating the volume of their voice, knowing left from right, mastering handwriting, kicking a ball, riding a bike, 'reading' body language and facial expressions, making eye contact and doing many other activities other children take for granted.
This book is written by people who both believe in inclusion and in children with Dyspraxia. They say:
"Far from being unco-operative and often puzzling, these children are in fact incredible. They are often working in a system that doesn't truly accommodate their needs and they function on the whole magnificently in a very confusing world".
The books aim is to help teachers in mainstream schools to understand and assist children with this impairment. It is full of useful information and suggestions for strategies in the classroom. These include games and exercises which will help the children to develop their skills and also ways of thinking about alternative or adapted routes for these children to learn and to express that learning in ways they can be proud of. There is an excellent section on being an ally to parents. It also illustrates how other professionals such as paediatric occupational therapists can work with teachers to help a child feel truly included.
I thought this book made the strongest point near the end in a story about a little boy with Dyspraxia called Matthew. Matthew was eight and had great anxiety about using the toilet at school because he knew he was slow to dress and undress, felt insecure with his feet dangling from the toilet and had real difficulties cleansing himself when he had finished. The school acted in a caring and flexible way, including putting footstools for him in the toilet adapted for disabled pupils and also in the staff toilet.
The point was that: "his peers were supportive because the teacher had talked about Dyspraxia with them all and they had a real understanding of Matthews difficulties and needs. She was pleasantly surprised by their interest and by the difference it made to the way Matthew had been accepted into class".
People of all ages naturally want to be useful to each other. When we are given good information about each others struggles and how we can make them easier, it is nearly always the case that hostility and bullying turns into kindness and appreciation of each others courage in the face of our personal challenges. This is one of the most important gifts of inclusion.
I recommend this book to everyone.
Micheline Mason
Making Inclusion Work for Children with Dyspraxia
Practical Strategies for Teachers
Gill Dixon and Lois M Addy
Routledge and Falmer
ISBN 0-415-31489-5

 

Understanding Autism as a Motion Difference

by L M Chapman
In terms of learning, my 'penny dropped' at a workshop on: 'Understanding autism as a motion difference'. It is many months later that I review this workshop given by Anne Donnellan and Martha Leary at the Chicago Hilton.
Reviewing my notes the quote that seemed to have struck me most was: absence of evidence it is not evidence of absence. In the past, research into autism gathered information that was observed, and these observations were then explained in deficits in terms of social development, intelligence, ability and feelings.
Not before time, we have come to realise that people with the label of autism have a huge amount to share on how they experience and process the world around them. Twenty years ago there were no self written accounts of what it is like to live with autism. Today there are many books written by people that have been charged with this label. Understanding autism as motion /emotion difference will have a huge impact on the way we perceive any such individual; and will help us understand their capabilities, rather than make assumptions based on their behaviour. As a person with a motion difference, this understanding has great resonance. If we only consider the deliberate thought and attention people with autism put into organising the motion needed to move their bodies, indeed it is hardly surprising to me that their attention is 'hijacked' from other processes. Anne explained how, in previous research, it was observed that people who had tremors that were more substantial were likely to be considered less intelligent. So, if they had a slight tremor they were considered more intelligent than if they had a heavy tremor. To someone with a movement difficulty, this makes a lot of sense. I know from my own experience that if I am trying to negotiate a physical activity, such as walking, whilst having a conversation, one or the other will give. If I concentrate on my walking, I will lose the thread of the conversation and begins to sound inarticulate, or if I concentrate only on the conversation, I am likely to fall over. If someone is finding it very difficult to control their body, or makes sense of their feelings, other actions will become difficult and may not happen as we expect them to. These could be the social cues we take for granted, such as reading people's moods, putting energy into controlling the muscles for orchestrating speech, or displaying the right emotions and body-language that accompanies conversation. It is this idea of attention that is engaged elsewhere, hijacked energy, that resonated with me. I cannot even begin to understand what it would mean if I had put even more attention into controlling and understanding my emotion, let alone other people's, in a way that would mean unravelling every move and every feeling. The danger is to assume that we all move in the same way, and to make negative assumptions about those of us that do not, we too easily jump to conclusions about the person's capabilities and feelings - because of what they do rather than getting to know who they are. We need to be more acceptant of peoples' difference movement, emotion and body language.

A touching insight into this was the story of a young woman who found touch too overpowering to bear hugs and cuddles; yet she obviously wanted to experience closeness as part of her relationship with her mother. I found this story SO diametrically contradicted the information I had previously been given concerning the lack of emotion among people given the label of autism. It is our incessant need to ascribe meaning to behaviour that often leads us to jump to wrong conclusions when it comes to make judgements about certain individuals within our communities.
Once more, the use of language we use to describe behaviour struck me. We were given a list:
Normal Labelled
akmesia non-compliance
festination behaviour excess
bradykinesia mental relaxation
tics abnormal behaviour
Obsession Autistic
I have found it interesting, posing the following question to both colleagues and participants: What do you do to feel safe? Not only have I been privy to some quite amusing and bemusing information!! But the explanations as to why these behaviours produce safety, have been quite interesting as well. It is funny how we can make any behaviour seem quite reasonable, if we think about it for long enough and we intellectualise its context. I would like to see all these different actions as a healthy part of the human condition, motions that we all need to go through as individuals. Unfortunately, as we grow older we tend to adopt a public face, and keep some of our more eccentric actions behind closed doors. Why do we do this? Moreover, why do we feel we need to stop those for whom this behaviour might be fulfilling an essential need from displaying it because it makes us feel uncomfortable?
Think about the following:
"When Laura was here I had the records arranged alphabetically; before that I had them filed in chronological order, beginning with Robert Johnson, and ending with, I don't know, Wham!, or somebody African, who ever else I was listening to when Laura and I met. Tonight, though, I fancy something different, so I tried to remember the order I brought them in: that way I hope to write my own autobiography, without having to do anything like pick up a pen........ and when I'm finished I am flush with a sense of self, because this, after all is who I am." High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
Now who needs labelling? Autistic? Whose to decide? And if people are charged with this label, what will the consequences be for the long term?
L M Chapman
http://www.equalitytraining.co.uk
http://www.inclusive-solutions.com

 

The Dignity of Risk

Review by Preethi Manuel
To laugh is to risk being a fool
To weep is to risk being sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
Only a person who risks is truly free. Anon
So begins 'The Dignity of Risk - a practical handbook for professionals working with disabled children and their families'.
It is a new chapter bringing much needed clarity into a situation that has hitherto been fraught with competing ideologies, mind-boggling bureaucracy and tragic denial of quality services for families in desperate need.
The handbook is essentially about managing health care needs of disabled children in community settings such as short-term breaks. It could equally be applied to schools where staff may be overkeen to protect their own interests and thereby unknowingly limit the full participation of disabled pupils in mainstream life. The message in the book is simple - if there is not an element of risk involved, disabled children will not get a life.
Good practice in risk management from diverse organisations such as 'York Sharing Caring Scheme' and 'Barnardos Family Link' is shared. Everything from clinical procedures and administration of medicines to manual handling, communication passports and behavioural management is covered. The underlying principles of inclusion, human rights and partnership with the child and family are emphasised throughout which I found refreshing. Protocols are set out clearly in a way that will appeal to time-pressed professionals.
The joint authors of the book - National Children's Bureau, Council for Disabled Children and Shared Care Network - are keen to point out that materials presented can be adapted for different situations. This alone should roll in the orders. There are also some light-hearted but equally weighty contributions from disabled children themselves. Some photographs of these happy children would not have gone amiss. Despite this grouse, a timely book to be thumbed and implemented and, a boot (and a bill) to anyone who says:
'but we have a no-lifting policy'. Preethi Manuel
Available from CDC, Tel: 020 7843 1900, Price: £30