Gain valuable insights through the child's perspective.
Children see the world quite differently than we do. The world is new to them. They are experiencing so many "firsts" and trying to make sense of them. When we seek out their points of view, we gain valuable insights into their thinking, their questions, their fears, and the things that tickle their fancy and delight them. Take time to listen and watch closely. Let their perspectives inform everything you do in your day-to-day practice.
Micah Fialka-Feldman knows what it's like to live with an intellectual disability. Now in college, he speaks across the country about living with a disability, and practices his deep personal insights in his daily life.
Micah Fialka-Feldman and family.
Micah at Oakland University in southeast Michigan.
The Fialka family.
Read what he has to share with us about what he has begun to understand about himself.
I am learning…
Not to be afraid to ask for help. Asking is a good thing and builds community.
My friends can help me and want to help me.
There are always people who want to rally behind a good cause about justice. Ask them to get involved.
A good way to spread the word about an important cause is by talking to lots of people, having forums, speaking up at Board meetings, talking to administrators, and contacting the media. Don't be afraid. You have an important message.
People will listen but I have to say it out loud or write about it.
To keep fighting — no matter what blocks my road.
How to talk to people who might not agree with me. I know it is important to listen and talk about what I believe.
Sometimes things will not go the way I want, but I still have to stand strong.
Change doesn't happen overnight.
My disability is a part of who I am.
It is important to know disability history and culture.
I am disabled and proud.
Technology and computers are very important ways for me to communicate and learn. (I use the program "Dragon Naturally Speaking").
I need to have dreams and find ways to achieve my dreams.
It is a good idea to think "outside the box".
Read Micah's list aloud. Choose two or three of Micah's statements, and write about the ways that his insights relate to your own thinking and experiences with disability and inclusion.
What does he say that surprises, delights, or intrigues you?
Write down your reactions. Talk with a colleague or friend about your reactions. Ask them to share their thoughts with you.
Put yourself in the place of a preschooler without disability. Think about what this child knows, is capable of, and believes to be so. Write 10 statements from this child's perspective, like the ones in Micah's list. For example: "I can get up to the table by myself." "My family and teachers love me." "I get help only when I need it." "I can play in the sand." "My daddy plays ball with me." "I drink from a cup."
Now make a list for a child who is the same age as the one whose perspective you expressed above. This second child has lower extremity mobility issues. She uses mobility assistance devices to help her get around.
What is her point of view? What do you imagine she knows, and is capable of, at her age?
How does the first list of statements you wrote differ from the second list?
What is your role in making it possible for the second list to include all of the statements in the first list?
In what ways might both children's points of view be enriched by interacting with one another in an inclusive setting?