"Inclusion, as a value, supports the right of all children, regardless of their diverse abilities, to participate actively in natural settings within their communities."
–Council for Exceptional Children, Division of Early Childhood's position statement
The home is the most natural setting that a child of any age will encounter on a daily basis. The definition of "home" may be different for many children. Home may be a foster care placement, a house with family members, a shelter, or a host of other scenarios. Wherever "home" is for a child, there are many opportunities to be included in everyday activities to build skills and a sense of belonging to a family unit. If a child feels a sense of acceptance and accomplishment at home, he or she will have more confidence to foster relationships at school and in the community. Below are some ideas about how to include a child with disabilities in family activities.
- Make sure that all members of the immediate family can communicate with a child with disabilities. If the child is using an augmentative communication system (objects symbols, pictures, picture symbols, etc.) have all family members become familiar with the system so that they can engage in communication. Have a communication book, with all of the symbols that the child uses, available for reference. If your child is learning sign language, enlist the family in a basic sign language class.
- Give all of the children in your household chores to do. Contributing to the household is important in establishing a sense of belonging and responsibility. Consider having siblings share tasks that may be too difficult for one of them to do alone.
- Choose leisure activities that all members of the family can enjoy. Call your local disability agency for a list of accessible swimming pools, nature trails, parks, and historic sights.
Slow down the pace. With the demands of modern life many families are constantly on the move. Chaos and confusion can cause a child with disabilities to withdraw from family activities. Make sure there is time in the day for quiet games, reading, or a family conversation. This will allow a child with disabilities to participate at their own pace.