Inclusivity (Special and Additional Needs)

Browsing through the bookstall at YWS13 I spotted this book being prominently displayed! It was only when I looked at it that I remembered that Martin had asked me to scribble something for it on inclusivity. It looks and reads much better on the page than I was expecting having just e-mailed a stream of consciousness type e-mail to him.
If you have the book (I don’t) you can see how much editing happened as below is the text of the e-mail.
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“Writing something generic about inclusion, given the range of additional or special and additional needs that there are, is quite a challenge. However coming from the perspective of a youth worker who has faced the challenge of inclusion, and my own experiences of having a son who has cerebral palsy, I wanted to try and frame some advice and thinking.
Being inclusive is a great way of modelling (and experiencing) the Kingdom. Young people with additional leads can be a great blessing to the group as well as being blessed by the group.
Don’t worry about what you don’t know! Talk to the young person first and foremost, get to know them. If speech is a difficulty for them, don’t be frightened, listen – really listen, and admit if you are struggling to understand. See the young person, not the disability. If you want to know more, talk to the parent(s), they’ll be more than happy to help you understand the young persons’ needs and challenges. Come to this conversation though having got to know the young person a little. Remember you are good at relating to young people, don’t become something different because they have a disability. If they have a diagnosed condition, a bit of time on Google can also be really helpful.
Having worked with the parent(s) to understand the needs, make sure you work with the young person in the context of the group. Parents can have a limited view of what their son/daughter can do and wants to do (All parents rightly want to protect their child but parents of children with disabilities can sometimes develop quite concerned and restrictive views of what they are capable of ) The group may be a great opportunity for them to explore more of who they are and what they are able to do. Listen – really listen.
Inclusion will require additional thought, planning and/or people depending on the young person. (On a very practical level some young people may not fit into neat age divisions and you may want to include them at ‘stage’ not age.)
Work to make activities work for all the group. Review regularly with the young person and the parents.
And finally as a parent can I just say what a blessing it is to see your child loved, valued and included regardless of their ability”

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