If asked, Dakota will tell you her favorite parts of school are gym, lunch and music. We believe she loves these classes because of her long-time involvement in extra-curricular activities: art, PE, choir, clubs, etc.
Dakota is very social. She just finished her second year of middle school, and many of her past friendships have continued. She’s also made new friends who share her interests.
We also believe in the power of gatekeepers, and Dakota has many gatekeepers.
As we began to plan for her 7th grade, Dakota expressed interest in taking choir as an elective. She also wanted to take athletics instead of PE. We talked to the choir director and the athletics coach. They were both willing to give it a try. We all knew it would require some work and creativity. But we were up to the task. During Dakota’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting we had to think outside the box.
Dakota is a struggling reader. She has a difficult time reading words. We knew reading music would be harder. After much talk and problem-solving, the IEP team had a plan. Dakota would be given the music on tape two weeks prior to class. This accommodation allowed Dakota to memorize the music instead of reading it.
Dakota loves music. Being with peers who also have a love of music was the perfect fit. Choir has offered her the chance to be part of something she loves while connecting with her peers.
Accommodations were also needed for athletics. One allowed her to rope climb horizontally instead of vertically. A peer would hold one end of the rope with Dakota at the other end. She would then use a scooter board and pull herself down the rope. Seeing the benefit for all students, this became a routine activity for the entire class.
Midyear, Dakota was asked to be one of three team managers. She was so excited! She was a part of all practices and warm-ups. She rode the bus to games. She sat with and interacted with the team during games. And was included in all other team activities. She loved it!
Watching the interactions Dakota had with her peers, coaches and choir teacher during class, after a game or choir performance, etc. was priceless. Being invited to a birthday party or to hang out with friends was an added bonus. It was also a reminder that inclusion works!
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Categories: Education & Schools