THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BYRochelle Maccarone is a mother of 2 exceptional kids, one just happens to have special needs. She, her husband, 2 kids live in Tiverton, RI. 

This is a story about how inclusion can be wonderful and sometimes a fairytale. My daughter is now 16 and has cerebral palsy. When she was in kindergarten the town of Tiverton had started a program for intensive special needs.  This was not a great year by any means but, it was the first experience we were going to have with inclusion.

While it was not a great year, my daughter made some great gains with being in class with the neurotypical students. Her speech (which had just begun with some words before school started) was improving. She started to make friends outside of the special education classroom. We decided as a team (mostly me pushing) to try a complete inclusion class for first grade with a co-taught teacher. While it seemed to be the best decision in the beginning, as the end of the year came she presented with behavior that made it very clear that it was too much for her. (I still feel as though they did not do enough to make it smoother.)

We decided (with hesitation from me) that second grade would take place at a different school with an intensive classroom. I loved the teacher we had but I still did not believe the program was the right fit. We had some wonderful things come out of elementary school, some very wonderful friendships and that in itself was worth all of the headaches.

Middle school was a lot of hits-and-misses but we chugged through. Fast forward to now: she is in 11th grade and has made great progress in the school system.  Though we still haven't found the perfect inclusion program, she is succeeding and on the path to earning her diploma.

As I write this I still wonder how we could have made it better but I feel we did the best with what we had. I hope the next generation has MORE inclusion than the last.

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