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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education


Diane Linder Berman and David J. Connor

This book is a true story of one family’s journey into inclusive education. Having previously been told that her son Benny had "failed to function" in two exclusionary special education classrooms in New York City, Berman’s family set off in search of a school where Benny would be accepted for who he was, while having the opportunity to grow and flourish academically, socially, and emotionally alongside his brother, Adam. Connor’s interest was piqued when Berman shared her desire to document the ways in which the new school community had supported Benny throughout the years. Together, they thought, surely other teachers, school and district level administrators, parents of children with and without disabilities, teacher educators, and student teachers, could learn from such a success story?

The result of their collaboration is this book in which Berman skillfully narrates episodes across time, describing ways in which children, teachers, educational assistants, parents, and a principal came to know Benny—developing numerous and often creative ways to include him in their classrooms, school, and community. Connor’s commentaries after each chapter link practice to theory, revealing ways in which much of what the school community seems to "do naturally" is, in fact, highly compatible with a Disability Studies in Education (DSE) approach to inclusive education. By illuminating multiple approaches that have worked to include Benny, the authors invite educators and families to envision further possibilities within their own contexts.

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Chapter 5. Behavior: Addressing Impulsivity


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Kindergarten proved tricky for Benny. While at first his issues seemed to evaporate with the move, it was not long before they resurfaced. Benny could not sit still for very long. At school he would jump up on the desks and then leap from one to the other. Other times he would take to the floor and crawl under the desks, sometimes resting his head beneath the desks. One day he toppled a fan, another day, a radio. He had numerous sensory issues that were addressed in occupational therapy but nothing seemed to curb his habit of licking the dust off the computer screens. Those were among the more unusual of his behaviors but even in-between these more outlandish acts, the day was filled with the more garden variety disruptions we see in children with mild and moderate disabilities.

The teachers would report some of these events to me but not in a threatening manner. In the same breath they would also tell me how he was progressing nicely with reading and writing. They found that with large chart paper he could better control the shape of his letters. Donna was excited to see that within a few days he was already progressing with his reading of sight words. Benny was spending most of recess under the playground equipment, but he was rarely alone. Other children, one boy named Mark in particular, would huddle there with...

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