This is the first in a series of children’s voices blogs.
12 year old Isabella tells us what inclusion means to her and thinks back on her experience of early childhood intervention and her transition to school. Isabella has autism spectrum disorder.
What inclusion means to Isabella
For me, inclusion at school, isn’t anything about being on the spectrum, really. I think it’s about when people let you join in a game or a project or something. Everyone can help with inclusion. If I’m nice to kids, they might learn to be nice and include other kids too.
Getting ready for school
When I was 4, I used to go to a group with some other kids and the best thing about that was that I met new people who were a bit like me, who were also getting ready for big school. Sienna is my speechie who was the leader of the group. I learnt about some of the ways we would do things at school, like the 5 Ls of listening and all the rules. I saw that big school is pretty different to preschool. You need to know the rules at big school.
Changes are a bit hard for me if I don’t know what is going to happen. I really hate surprises. When I was getting ready to go to school, I remember I used to go to visit my new school every week in term four before I started kindy. That was good because I got to meet lots of kids in the year above me and I also had a big buddy who was in year five. When I first started kindy, I would look for my big buddy and he would ask me to join in playing with him and some other kids at recess and lunch. I got to know my new kindy teacher and she got to know about me and what would make me happy and upset. I can get upset about different things than most kids. There used to be a cuddly bear in the classroom that I could hug to help me calm down.
Reflecting back and planning ahead
Now that I am in year 6, I still get help sometimes from my speechie, Sienna. She has known me since I was 4 years old. I have learned social stuff like how and why to give people compliments. At home we do some of those things to remind me about those things that aren’t so easy for me. Getting help has got me to know what I am good at and what I like and don’t like.
I would like to say to any other Mum or Dad or kid who are thinking about getting help, definitely do it. I think it is good for people to know that sometimes it is hard learning new things, and you might even get upset now and then, but early intervention really helps you in the end.
How do you gather feedback which represents the perspectives of the children you work with?
Do you know a child or a parent who may like to share their story of inclusion or their recollections of early childhood intervention?