Hands down the greatest thing to come out of Nathan’s journey through school is the relationships he has with his friends. Initiating, fostering and maintaining authentic friendships can be one of the most important yet most challenging aspects of inclusive education.
So what did it take?
An educational program that specified inclusion and addressed Nathan’s social needs and aspirations
Nathan spent his preschool years in the G.R.I.T. program – an inclusive early childhood program that supports students through to the end of Kindergarten before they transition into grade one and begin receiving school supports. When the time came for Nathan’s graduation from GRIT, a wonderful lady with the school district by the name of Sherri St. Arneau, designed Nathan’s IEP to match the GRIT model. This meant that in addition to supporting Nathan at school I would be supporting Nathan for part of his school day at his home. Being that Nathan’s health wasn’t the best, this was ideal.
When creating the IEP, Nathan’s parents simply stated that their goals were for him to be “Happy, Healthy, and Included”. The IEP always contained a page for social inclusion as well as specifying in each subject the opportunities where friends and peers could be involved. The sections that asked who was responsible for delivering each task always included peers and friends. We couldn’t have made it more clear that friends were important above all.