Children should not have to meet criteria to participate in child
care and classroom environments.
We reject the notion that children with disabilities must be "fixed"
(frequently couched in terms of meeting certain criteria) before they
are ready to take their place in families, neighborhoods, and community
environments and experience the normal flow of everyday life and friendships
available to those without disabilities. We are particularly concerned
that young children with severe disabilities and their families have
the opportunity for inclusive in high quality child care and preschool
and neighborhood school programs within the mainstream of programs available
to typically developing children and their families.
- Children with disabilities and children who are typical in their
development have the right to get to know each other and develop relationships.
We recognize that typically developing young children must have an opportunity
to develop relationships with children who experience a wide range of
disabling conditions. We acknowledge the importance of children learning
to live in a pluralistic society and to accept individual differences
at an early age. We believe that typically developing young children
are at a critical readiness period for the experience of knowing a child
with a disability and that their lives will be enriched by reaching
out to friends who experience disabilities.
- A viable program must reflect collaboration and involvement among
all participants (e.g., families, early childhood educators, and special
We believe that a viable program must reflect involvement, input, and
ongoing collaborative efforts from all participants, including the families
receiving services and the special education and community early childhood
program and pubic school personnel.
- The uniqueness and dignity of each child must be valued, preferences
acknowledged, choice-making supported, and the application of aversive
We hold deep respect for the uniqueness and dignity of each child as
an individual human being who merits our careful observation and response
to his or her needs. We reject the application of any aversive procedures
and believe that the acknowledgment of child preference and the development
of choice- making skills, a sense of self, and personal autonomy are
- Inclusive programming must incorporate recommended and exemplary
We believe that inclusive programming efforts must incorporate recommended
and exemplary practice approaches, which include those that support
social interactions with typically developing age peers and functional
instructional objectives that are taught and practiced using developmentally
appropriate activities and materials available to all children in the
program. Additionally, objectives and outcomes must be based on family
priorities and developed with input from the family and the interdisciplinary
team of service providers. The principle of partial participation should
be used to maximize involvement when the child is not able to perform
all aspects of an activity.
- The concept of natural proportions should guide placement decisions.
We accept the concept of natural proportions and believe that it is
best to place young children with disabilities in programs in accordance
with realistic population distributions.
- Time and energy should be directed toward investigating variables
that make inclusion successful.
Our time and energy should be vested in investigating the variables
that make inclusive educational endeavors work in the best possible
A circle of inclusion: Facilitating the inclusion of young children
with severe disabilities in mainstream early childhood education programs.
(1993). Lawrence, KS: Learner Managed Design.