Students also need those same supports around them as well. This quote adapted from Petroglyphs: The Writing on the Wall; University of New Hampshire brings that thought into focus.
We used to think students with disabilities didn't need guidance counselors…Or lockers, or notebooks, or an excuse for being late to class.
We used to think students with disabilities couldn't be sent to the principal's office. Didn't need transcripts. Couldn't make the team.
When students needed to practice communication skills we sent them to the speech room--we forgot about the cafeteria.
When students got sick, the special education teacher called home--we forgot about the school nurse.
And when classmates were getting homework assignments, we forgot to give students with disabilities anything at all.
We now know about natural supports. And that ‘only as special as necessary' are the words to live to by. We know about people, places, places and things that support all students. So instead of paraeducators being assigned to students, instructional assistants are assigned to classrooms. And instead of just IEP progress notes, all students get report cards. We now know that including students without natural supports just moves the self-contained classroom into regular education. It only changes the place where supports are provided. Not the way. Not the who. Not the how.