Missy attends a local regional mainstream school and will head into Year 3 this year. We chose the mainstream route after attending many Family Advocacy workshops and shared in the stories of others who achieved inclusive lives for their children. A fully inclusive life was our dream for Missy, so we set about gathering support, educating ourselves and most importantly talking with other parents.
We wanted Missy to be part of our local community, that starts with peer groups at Day care, Pre-School and mainstream school, not attending a segregated special school where peers groups are restricted.
We chose our school carefully and haven't looked back, it is lead by an enthusiastic principal who supports our vision that Missy belongs in a mainstream setting. Missy is supported full time by a teachers aide while at school, but not just any teachers aide - Miss H who we brought to the school with us. Miss H has worked with Missy for 6 years and is now part of the family. Missy has many wonderful friends at school who greet her each morning, they have expectations that Missy will be included in everything and everyone learns each day to think "how can we do this activity" so Missy can do it. Miss H and class teachers along the way have role modelled this and the kids are straight onto the challenges.
Kids with special needs attending mainstream schools bring out inclusive and empathy qualities in kids. It's has to lead to better communities and inclusive workplaces.
Where were all the kids with disabilities when I was at school? I see it now as missed opportunities to enrich my life.