Barriers to Preschool Inclusive Services

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By Ramona, Jacob's Foster Mom

On Jacob's first day at school I was really concerned because he is so tiny and so obviously handicapped, and I know his teacher was very nervous, so I tried not to be nervous and to help her not to be nervous. His teacher took him to the circle, and I turned around to say something to the school director, and when I turned back around to watch, I couldn't find him. They were all lying around on the floor doing their exercises that they do to loosen up and get relaxed and ready for the day. And I couldn't find him! I had to go completely around the circle before I finally found him lying there looking at the boy next to him. And that little kid was telling him, "Stretch, stretch." They were stretching, and Jacob had his arms out like everybody else. My heart was in my throat. I had to leave; I couldn't stay and cry. Jacob was with his peers and he was fitting in. If anyone had walked in at that point, they would not have been able to tell that there was anything different about him. It was amazing. But, you know, he is just like everybody else-he's just a little boy.

  • Lack of Adequately Prepared Personnel
    Early childhood educators and early childhood special educators are educated separately and the extent and depth of the education that each receives can vary greatly. Many early childhood teachers don't feel that they have the expertise to teach children with disabilities. Both groups of teachers need instruction in consultation and teaming, but may not receive this in their preservice programs. In addition to the general teacher education, early childhood and early childhood special education teachers may need child specific information and support in order to meet the needs of a specific child with a disability. Related Link.

  • Philosophical Differences Between Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
    Just as a variety of philosophies exist within either of these two fields, differences are sure to occur between the two fields. The two fields draw from different origins and may approach the child and his/her education differently. Related Link.

  • Lack of Related Services
    The young child with a disability may require services from a variety of disciplines. These services are not typically available in a community based early childhood program. These services must be secured from agencies and arrangements for service delivery within the child's program or home made. This entails collaborative planning among the personnel of these agencies as well as travel between numerous agencies, programs and home on the part of the participating personnel. Related Link

  • Lack of Monitoring Systems
    Each state education agency is responsible for providing free, appropriate public education to children with disabilities between the ages of 3 through 8 years and for documenting the delivery of these services. The state agency responsible for infant and toddler service various among the states. Numerous problems regarding eligibility definitions, who is responsible for providing and paying for what services, and the process of transition between agencies all contribute to renewed issues of the availability of inclusive services for families and children. Related Link

  • Attitudes of Adults
    Negative attitudes by special education personnel, community early childhood program personnel, or parents towards inclusion or change in the service delivery plan can create a formidable barrier to inclusive services. Personnel or parent attitudes of concern or inadequacy can also create roadblocks. Parents may not feel comfortable with their child attending a program where intensive therapies are not readily available. They may be concerned that their child will be made fun of or harmed by other children. Classroom teachers may feel that they don't have the expertise to teach a child with a disability. Special education personnel may feel that they don't possess the skills to provide services in a consultative fashion, or they may not feel comfortable releasing their role as special educator to other members of the education team. Related Link

Thompson, B., Wickham, D., Wegner, J., Ault, M., Shanks, P., & Reinertson, B. (1993). Handbook for the inclusion of young children with severe disabilities. Lawrence, KS: Learned Managed Designs, Inc.

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