Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Who's the Slow Learner?

who's the slow learner
Who’s the Slow Learner? offers the parents of special needs children information and tools for ensuring inclusive education..
Author Sandra Assimotos McElwee, an advocate for unborn babies with Down syndrome, was inspired by her son, Sean, to pen the book, which chronicles his sometimes harrowing educational experience and the steps she and Sean’s teachers took to help facilitate his acceptance and success. McElwee discusses frankly and openly the challenges faced by her son, and other children with intellectual disabilities, including the difficult transition from elementary school to secondary school as educators failed to meet Inclusive Best Practices and even violated Sean’s civil rights.
Who’s the Slow Learner includes creative examples of accommodations and modifications for special needs students. It is the first book that chronicles a student with special educational needs from preschool through high school graduation. It is a story of triumphs and successes, losses and failures.
With his mother’s insight and assistance, Sean McElwee was included in all aspects of the elementary mainstream educational experience: He learned to read, excelled in math and performed in school talent shows. Most important for Sean, he forged many meaningful friendships. Sean thrived and graduated from high school at just 17. Now 20, Sean McElwee speaks openly and publicly as an advocate for inclusive education for children with special needs. And with World’s Down Syndrome Day approaching on March 21, Sean and his mother continue to speak out any way they can, including Sandra’s blog .
My Thoughts: As a former Elementary Education and Special Education teacher, I was impressed with the lengths the school district took (because the author pushed for inclusion for her son) to ensure inclusion for the author's son. At first I thought I would not want her son in my classroom as it would be lots of extra time and work without extra monetary compensation but the district actually had someone else who was responsible for modifying the curriculum. It was obvious from the IEP goals listed at the beginning of each chapter that Sean was not at the same educational level as the students but he was being exposed to age appropriate curriculum and social opportunities. With determination and the right people in her path, the author was able to provide full inclusion for her son in elementary school; unfortunately the obstacles were too great once he entered middle and high school - the worst being the administration and teachers.  This book would be of value to any parent of a child with special needs to see what can be done if one is willing to fight for it --- which one shouldn't have to do. I also think that all school administrators and educators could learn a great deal from one family's experience. 
This book was provided to me by Bostick Communications; I received no monetary compensation for my review. 

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