I have had this on my heart to share for a while and decided that today would be a good day as we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Inclusion & Universal Design
Inclusive programs create accepting environments and send a powerful message that all children are welcomed and valued.
When inclusive practices are fully embraced, we provide all children with an authentic sense of belonging.
Materials and programs that are developed with “universal design” concepts are designed from the beginning to be flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of a wide range of individuals, including those with and without disabilities.
The intent of “universal design” is to simplify life for everyone by making products and programs usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. Have you ever used automatic doors or “curb cut” ramps? Then you have benefitted from universal design.
Inclusion is Belonging – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9-XX9227ek
Here’s my dream: Let’s use the concept of “universal design” as we develop and implement yoga programs and materials for kids and youth. What simple modifications can we make to be inclusive and supportive of kids and youth of all abilities and needs in our classes? Can we add visual supports? Simplify instructions? Modify poses for specific physical and/or sensory needs?
Before offering “separate” classes or creating “separate” materials for kids & youth with special needs, consider what could be done to support inclusion in what is already available.
Ok….. I’m not Pollyanna. I know that inclusion may take more thought and planning. Inclusion may be uncomfortable the first time you are faced with how to handle a challenging behavior. And there may some situations where it would not be safe for a particular child to be included at that point in time (ex: due to extremely aggressive behaviors). But based on my 21 years experience working with kids of all ages (0-21 years) & a wide variety of special needs, it is pretty rare to have a child with that extreme of a behavioral issue unless you are working in a program/setting specifically designed for those intense needs.
- Who better to “be the change we want to see in the world” than those of us doing yoga with kids & youth?
- Where better to truly teach the concept of inclusion than in yoga programs for kids & youth?
Need help knowing how to take steps towards inclusion? One great resource would be to collaborate with folks who are passionate about inclusion in your own community. Look for a teacher, a parent of a child with special needs, a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, etc… who shares your passion for inclusion.
And I’m here to brainstorm ideas via my OMazing Kids Yoga Facebook page….. The reason I established it was as a means to promote inclusive yoga for kids & teens of all abilities…. So I’d love to help!
Here are some great online resources for inclusion:
Supporting Inclusion for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Community Programs
Supporting Social Emotional Needs
Supporting Children with Developmental Disabilities
Visual Support Video Series: How to Use Pictures to Enhance Activities
Visual Support Video Series: How to Use Picture and Object Schedules
Defining expectations: How to Teach Children What is Expected of Them
Sensory support: How to Accommodate Children Who Are Over or Under-Sensitive
My goal in providing these thoughts & resources is to inspire and support inclusion. Namaste! 🙂
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2
Founder of OMazing Kids Yoga, LLC – inclusive yoga for kids & teens of all abilities in Norman, Oklahoma
Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2
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