INCLUDING CHILDREN WITH EXCEPTIONALITIES
"The concept of inclusion means different things to different individuals, and it is rooted in values, evidence-based practice, community standards, and personal experience (Larocque & Darling, 2008, p. 3)".
"Developmentally Appropriate Practice is, by definition, individually appropriate as well as age appropriate. A program cannot possibly achieve individual appropriateness without assessing and planning for children's individual needs and interests (Bredekamp, 1993, p. 263)".
The notion of exceptionalities in young children varies widely from setting to setting. Some would think of a child they knew who was developing motor or language skills slowly, while others think of children with genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome or physically involved children with cerebral palsy. The severity of the disability affects beliefs about who can be served in child care settings, preschools, or general education classes. However, children are children; they have likes and dislikes, have unique personalities, and develop at their own pace, regardless of a disability.
For those of us who are engaged in developmentally appropriate practice, meeting the needs of individual children is what we do everyday. Developmentally appropriate practice requires that we understand developmental skills that are typical for the chronological age of the children whom we are caring for and educating. It also focuses on the interests, developmental skills and areas of need for each child. We are used to making decisions, planning experiences and staging environments that support individual children. When working with typically developing children, these supports are often referred to as scaffolding. Once a child has an identified disability, the term changes to modifications and adaptations. Regardless of the language used, the outcome is the same. Effective early childhood teachers meet the needs of the individual children with whom they work.