SARRC is committed to building a supportive community for individuals with ASD. A core component of accomplishing this is creating an inclusive environment for people to live, work, learn and play. Inclusion is not an outcome; it is a process. It involves continuously learning and adapting to ensure that individuals with ASD, and everyone else, are not only accepted but also valued and appreciated for what they bring to the table. We asked a few members of our team how SARRC continues to promote a lifetime of inclusion through our programs, services and outreach.
Why does SARRC support inclusive classrooms?
Research has demonstrated positive educational outcomes for students with disabilities who are in inclusive educational placements, resulting in fewer absences and behavioral referrals and better outcomes after high school in the areas of employment and independent living. These are important outcomes among individuals with ASD and every child. Inclusive classrooms benefit all students, including children with ASD. Teachers are more likely to provide instruction in a way that values the unique contributions, supports the varied needs, and reaches all of the learners in the classroom. As a result, children master academic standards, but also learn to embrace diversity and promote inclusion on the playground, in the work place, and beyond. As a community, we benefit from the larger work force, innovative ideas, and valued contribution of all members of our community.
How is SARRC making inclusion a priority?
SARRC prioritizes inclusion in our programs where participants with and without autism learn and grow together, for example, in our Community School and volunteer in CommunityWorks. We support individuals with autism in their own neighborhoods, schools, grocery stores and work places where we teach important skills, and establish community partners committed to inclusion. We also offer autism education and training opportunities to individuals, organizations, schools and other community leaders on how we can work together to practice inclusion.
My child seems to be excluded from play groups at his school. What can I do to help them?
Children with ASD can find it challenging to navigate social situations and may struggle to make and keep friends. Evidence-based interventions are effective in teaching social and communication skills and increase a child’s ability to successfully join and participate in play with peers.
These skills need to be taught and practiced in a way that extends beyond intervention and into the natural environment. This is where inclusive environments are critical to providing frequent and meaningful opportunities to build skills with other children. SARRC offers many programs that teach social skills in inclusive and natural environments where trained clinicians facilitate play, help build meaningful friendships and establish life-long skills for children with and without ASD. Bringing kids together is just step one – quality intervention is necessary to make it work.
I want to be part of this initiative, what can I do?
Have a preschool-age child? Consider enrolling them in SARRC’s Community School in Phoenix or Tempe. Have a school-age child or teenager? Support one of our summer camp partners who are collaborating with us to make Phoenix a more inclusive community, or look into our CommunityWorks program and sign your teen up! Are you a leader in your organization and want to learn more about inclusion and what you can do to support individuals with ASD? Contact our Education, Training and Consultation team at 602.340.8717 to attend an upcoming training and explore how we can work together.