Include people with special needs and their families in your activities, your community and your life. People with special needs are often isolated from their peers, resulting in fewer opportunities to interact with others at social functions or extracurricular activities. By being inclusive, you are helping to create a supportive community for everyone, regardless of their abilities.
What can you do?
- Use positive, supportive language, and actions when talking about and interacting with individuals with special needs.
- Focus on students’ abilities, rather than their disabilities. Let students know what is possible.
- Do not use labels or terms that perpetuate negative stereotypes or inaccurate portrayals of people with special needs. Explain to others why those labels are damaging and should not be used.
- Talk early and often to children of all abilities about what would like to do when they grow up.Encourage them to believe in themselves and help them learn skills needed to succeed.
- Give students with special needs a voice in developing their educational paths. Include them, when possible, in meetings between parents, teachers and administrators, so that they are actively included in the process.
- Graduation rates for students with disabilities is significantly lower than for students without disabilities. The graduation rate for students with disabilities was 61.9% in 2012-2013, nearly 20 points lower than the average graduation rate for all students. Students with disabilities have second lowest graduation rate in the United States. (Source)
- It is estimated that 85 to 90% of special education students could meet regular graduation requirements with the right support. (Source)
- Misperceptions about abilities of students with special needs serve as big obstacles for their success. A survey found that 70% of parents, educators, and members of the general public incorrectly associate learning disabilities with more severe disabilities and 43% incorrectly associate learning disabilities with lower IQs. (Source)
- Many students with disabilities regularly deal with low expectations from adults, including their parents. (Source)
|Autism Speaks Advocacy organization in the United States that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public.|
|GiGi's Playhouse Each Playhouse provides educational and therapeutic programs at no charge to families of individuals with Down syndrome.|
|Horse Ability Offers a wide range of horse-related programs to children, adults, and families with special needs to promote the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing of its participants.|
|Merrimack Hall provides performing arts education and social and cultural opportunities to people with special needs.|
|The Miracle League removes the barriers that keep children with mental and physical disabitlities off the baseball field and lets them experience the joy of America's favorite pastime. There are currently over 240 Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico and Canada, serving over 200,000 children and adults.|
|Opportunity Village serves children and adults in the southern Nevada community with intellectual disabilities to enhance their lives and the lives of the families who love them. Through vocational training, community employment, day services, advocacy, arts and social recreation, citizens with severe disabilities are able to find new friends, realize future career paths, seek independence and community integration and unleash creative passions.|
|Special OlympicsThe world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.|
Understood.org – Resource for parents with children ages 3–20 who are struggling with learning and attention issues to understand and relate to their children’s issues.
Related PBS Kids Apps
PBS Kids offers free and paid educational apps for children and even adults. The following apps encourage social-emotional learning: