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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education

Series:

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 14. Brothers

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· 14 ·

BROTHERS

I grew up as an only child, in a family that seemed to me a simple and sometimes lonely trio. My parents were the deeper voices, providing the structure and the beat. I was the melody, singing my song at each family dinner, on every family car ride and every evening as bedtime neared. I was also often alone, creating worlds of pretend friends and siblings. My closest friends were and still are other only children. We find each other and become sibling replacements but we never have to vie for attention, time and money. We provide each other with pure companionship and understanding.

I was totally new to the dynamics between brothers. I worried about having two children. I was unsure how as a parent I could divide my attention and my love. As soon as Adam was born, I understood that love needed not be divided because, as Cantor explains, sets of infinite size are equivalent and equally vast. I loved Adam and Benny each with an equally infinite expanse of emotion. My attention, though, is finite and I struggled daily with that divide, a divide made more challenging because of the time and energy Benny required.

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