I have also attended meetings addressing adult residential care where the community living advocates paint horror pictures of institutional care while ignore the inadequacies and gaps in our youth and adult residential care system. Worst of all the community living advocates simply ignore the failures of their own philosophy based ideology that rules this province. They make no mention of the persons living in psychiatric hospitals except to pretend that somehow their philosophy is not to blame.
The fact is that Autistic children with severe challenges are often simply sent home when they are unable to survive in the mainstream classroom panacea of the full inclusion philosophers. Autistic youth and adults are sent wherever when the community living panacea of residential care fails, time and time again, to provide for their needs. I am not alone in questioning the full inclusion, community living philosophies as inadequate, non evidence based failures to accommodate our most severely challenged. Throughout my participation in the various processes I mention above parents, professionals and teachers have come to me at different times to thank me for speaking up when many of them are unable to do so or are fearful of doing so.
There have been, and are, others who have questioned the full inclusion philosophy/panacea. I provide here some links to some others who have spoken up. It is not an exhaustive link but I encourage you to read these sources if you are sincere about addressing the education and residential care needs of the severely disabled amongst us.
1. THE FULLY INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM IS ONLY ONE OF THE RIGHT WAYS TO MEET THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD - Yude M. Henteleff, C.M., Q.C.
It should be abundantly clear, having in mind the foregoing statistics, that for children who suffer from emotional, mental, behavioural, cognitive, sensory, physical, expressive language, visual and auditory difficulties (and often a combination of some of the foregoing), it is simply not possible to meet their diverse needs in one environment. One shoe simply cannot fit all. Indeed, total inclusion is a discriminatory concept because it limits the environmental choices, which groups of children and youth with differing difficulties have the right to make in their best interests. p.2
2. Let's talk about inclusion, full-inclusion and community living - Claire, mother of a severely disabled daughter, teacher, B.A., M.A., blogger ( LIFE WITH A SEVERELY DISABLED CHILD )
This is the reality that full-inclusion ideologues ignore. My daughter is not safe in a regular classroom. Others cannot handle the stimulation, others need one on one, pull-out programs to get ahead and fix a few glitches. Can I tell you, in all honesty, that I would not have wanted my Eldest to have had in her classroom as many challenged kids as most full-inclusion classrooms face today, because she would have been bored to tears and her education would have suffered. School is not only about socialization, it is about education. Kids learn in different ways, at different paces. I know this. I am a teacher. ... Children who are in separate classrooms can be included in outdoor activities, in gyms, in music programs, in assemblies. ... there are a million other creative ways of including without sacrificing safety, socialization and education....That's my position. It's not cheap. It's why full inclusion is favoured. It's cheaper...make no mistake about it.
The same thing is true about living situations for adults with disabilities. Some are very high functioning and can thrive with minimal assistance. Others need more. Some disabilties are SO severe, however, as to require people with specialized training, really big hearts and minds, and very specific environments. Community living, as in group homes with staffed with DSW's, is not always appropriate. For some, a residential environment is better.
What is a "residential environment"? Well, certainly not a cell block with cages, people chained to beds and toilets, living on straw, okay? Oh, and hosed down occasionally to keep the lice down, and mush that serves as food passed through little holes in the wall. For Chrissakes. Yet these are the images brought up by full-inclusion ideologues again and again. ... I followed carefully when Ontario blitz closed all it's institutions. I read far too many stories of the severely disabled dying soon after the move...after having lived for over 30 years in the institutions. I also read a number of stories of those with the most severe behaviours being kicked out and turned away from "community living" environments, leaving frantic families searching desperately for solutions. .... Some severely disabled, either physically, cognitively or behaviourally need really specialized services that cannot be realistically provided in a group home setting. It's just a fact. I would love to see a residence like that for my daughter when she is an adult. I think it's createable...I think there are such things around here and there...or parents get together and come up with creative ways of making something similar happen by combining their finances. In any case, it won't come cheap. And that is always the problem in the end. My kid's life is never worth what it takes to make her both happy and safe...unless she stays at home. But...if she lives longer than I can hold out, I will have to find her something. Who knows what will be out there when the time comes...but I would vote for a residence any day, if it were well run, beautiful and appropriate."
3. Full Inclusion: One Reason for Opposition - Donald B. Crawford, Ph.D., professor of special education at UW-Eau Claire
"The experiments prove that achievement is not helped if multi-age grouping is used to allow students to pursue their own ends or to let everyone work individually. Full inclusion advocates want precisely this kind of enviroment and wish to eliminate direct instruction of homogeneous groups of students, which they consider "lockstep" instruction. By supporting full inclusion all the time, advocates hope to make it impossible to do direct instruction anymore. This will have a negative effect on achievement of all students.
There are several reasons for opposing a policy of full inclusion even though that policy sounds like the "right thing to do" on first hearing. As has been stated earlier, one reason is because full inclusion of an extremely wide range of abilities into general education classrooms makes direct, systematic instruction nearly impossible. In addition, once full inclusion is implemented, teachers are forced to change their teaching methods to more child-directed, discovery-oriented, project-based learning activities in which every student works at his or her own pace. This has never produced high levels of achievement anywhere it has been tried."
4.a. The Costs of Inclusion - John MacBeath, Maurice Galton, Susan Steward, Andrea MacBeath and Charlotte Page, A study of inclusion policy and practice in English primary, secondary and special schools Commissioned and funded by the National Union of Teachers, Published by University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education.
4. b. School inclusion 'can be abuse '- BBC report on The Costs of Inclusion and Interview with Professor John MacBeath
"Prof MacBeath told journalists: "Physically sitting in a classroom is not inclusion. Children can be excluded by sitting in a classroom that's not meeting their needs." ... "You might call it a form of abuse, in a sense, that those children are in a situation that's totally inappropriate for them." ... He and co-author Maurice Galton stressed their report was not "anti-inclusion ... What concerned teachers was whether schools could provide a suitable education for those with complex needs."
5. Re-open the Institutions? Advocates Reverse Stand as "Community" Tragedy Unfolds - Bernard Rimland, Ph. D., Founder of Autism Society of America
New Brunswick has a duty to take care of its most vulnerable citizens. Today it must fulfill that duty in challenging times. The economic and fiscal challenges facing this province are huge. We can not ignore these realities even if we wanted to do so. From the beginning of the election process until today experts have continually reminded us of the world's and New Brunswick's dire financial pictures. Those realities will limit the options available as we make education and adult care decisions for our citizens with extreme disability challenges. But even if that is so we owe them a duty we owe all citizens, a duty we owe ourselves ... to speak honestly and to look at the evidence, to look realistically about how those decisions actually impact on persons with complex needs.
We must abandon feel good philosophy and rhetoric. We must speak honestly about what we will do, or will not do, for our youth and adults with complex needs ... with severe disabilities.