Working with Families for Inclusive Education: Volume 10

Cover of Working with Families for Inclusive Education

Navigating Identity, Opportunity and Belonging


Table of contents

(22 chapters)

Section I Personal and Family Perspectives on Inclusion: Navigating Identity, Opportunity, and Belonging


In this chapter, we examine narratives of inclusion and exclusion told by professional performers with lifelong impairments who are successfully leading “inclusive” lives in order to bring their voices and experiences to the attention of academics, educators, policy makers, and service providers. We draw on stories told during in-depth interviews with 10 disabled comedians conducted as part of a larger project on the complex seemingly paradoxical relationship between disability and humor. We take an interpretive approach to our data collection and analysis consistent with principles of the emancipatory tradition in disability studies. These performers clearly value the inclusive childhoods their families provided. As children, they were educated in inclusive settings and participated in a wide variety of activities – often centering on the performing arts. Their rich and varied experiences (even the negative ones) have provided both fuel for performance and confidence to push back against attempts by others to exclude them from social and professional life in the everyday world. Their inclusive childhoods, however, are not entirely without a downside. In many cases, they did not develop a sense of disability pride, or even a disability identity, until they had opportunities to interact with others who have impairments during the transition to adulthood. For children raised in more inclusive settings, a conscious effort to provide opportunities to engage with other children and adults with impairments may be an important adjunct to inclusion.


In this chapter, we report findings from a three-year, survey- and interview-based study involving 538 families bringing up children with disabilities in Alberta, Canada. The focus of the study was on the everyday challenge and accomplishment of sustaining a routine of daily life. The families who participated in this study were diverse, yet they struggled with many of the same questions and challenges. Four over-arching and inter-related challenges emerged from our analysis of the interview data. These are difficulty balancing the competing needs and wants of their children; tension between wanting to protect and wanting to integrate their child and family into the community; conflict between earning and care giving activities; and, trouble accessing and navigating supports and services. This chapter includes a small sample of illustrative family stories. The study findings suggest that parents are striving but struggle to meet normative expectations, that is, to simultaneously do all they can to help their disabled child and create a routine that balances the needs and interests of all their children. One conclusion is that service systems and professionals can help and or hinder families as they strive to create and maintain a daily routine that is fitted to the local ecology and family resource-base, and congruent with their values and goals, and with the needs, interests, and competencies of family members.


Countries across the Pacific are going through significant educational reforms. One of the most significant reforms within the education sector relates to education of children with disabilities. There is a push at the regional level to include students with disabilities in mainstream schools. Many countries are in the process of either revising existing policies or drafting new policy documents to implement inclusive education practices. One group of stakeholders that is going to be directly influenced by the policies is the families of children with disabilities. No attempts have been made to understand what parents think about the new policy directions. In this chapter, we make an attempt to present parental perspective about inclusive education from four countries of the Pacific (Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu). We believe understanding parental perspectives about inclusive education from the Pacific will shed some light on how likely the new reform will be embraced by them. It will also identify any significant issues of concern that may need to be considered for successful implementation of inclusive education reform in the Pacific.


Effective collaboration with families when a child has chronic illness or disability involves the participation of all family members. Through a review of recent literature, this chapter provides a snapshot into the unique experiences and perspectives of fathers and siblings, exploring roles, and responsibilities often assumed by each, such as protector, advocate, teacher, and caretaker. Professionals are invited to build greater awareness of the unique insights fathers and siblings can contribute to program planning. Strategies to build partnerships that benefit all family members are suggested.

Section II Fostering Collaborative Partnerships for Inclusion: Frameworks and Strategies


This chapter is based on compulsory school experiences of students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their parents in the educational context of Finland. Located in the theoretical framework of Disability Studies, the chapter aims to contribute to theory of inclusive education by initiating a new dialogue on conceptual foundations of inclusive schooling. In this regard, the chapter first deconstructs the concept of educational need that stems from the field of traditional special education as contradictory to the original ideals of inclusive education. It then moves on to reconstruct the concept of educational need in accordance with the foundational values of inclusion, that is celebration of human diversity and resistance to dichotomies of ab-/normality and dis-/ability and proposes an approach for future implementation of inclusive education.


The impact of inclusion programs on children goes beyond the classroom. It reflects families’ and children’s experiences with school systems and communities. Inclusion is more than an issue of disability, a set of strategies, or a placement. It involves the need for all children to be a part of the classroom (Odom, Schwartz, & ECRII Investigators, 2002) and for their families to be a part of their educational experiences (Soodak & Erwin, 1995). The purpose of this chapter is to identify the barriers to and facilitators of inclusion in early childhood programs through listening to the voices of parents and analyzing effective inclusive practices in the literature. The chapter is organized around five themes derived from the voices of parents about their children with disabilities in preschool placements. These themes are then connected to the findings in the literature including the key characteristics of early childhood inclusion programs. The reader is encouraged to identify the barriers to and facilitators of inclusion that the parents share through their lived experiences for each theme as well as reflect on the ways in which schools can include and collaborate with parents to foster a partnership that supports all children.


This chapter explores the Three-Block Model of inclusive education, which is situated in the framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The chapter demonstrates how the model informs both instructional design and social-emotional learning objectives focused on fostering community through celebrating diversity, and explores the essential role of parents as collaborators. Examples are provided of IEP development through shared examination of goals, strategies, and assessment, and of innovative learning processes and outcomes associated with incorporating parent involvement in children’s education.


The chapter will explore steps that might be taken within the context of schools to encourage the creation of an inclusive social environment. In particular, it examines the roles played by parents of children with and without disability, as co-constructing agents of inclusion. Particular emphasis will be placed on parental attributes of hope, optimism, and courage. At this regards, an international review on these parental resources will be reported, highlighting their key role in enabling parents to face challenging child and family circumstances – including disability, living in poverty, or experiencing cultural segregation and discrimination, and in promoting inclusion. Lastly, qualitative and quantitative assessment instruments to assess these resources will be presented and suggestions to promote them will be provided.


This chapter begins with the historical background to current educational provisions for students with disabilities and the significant role that parents have played. The focus then turns to the concept of transition to adulthood for these young people. The chapter addresses such topics as:

  • What are the experiences of students together with their parents, about leaving school and moving to the next stage in their lives?

  • What are the components of this transition?

  • How do the educators and providers manage their roles in this activity?

  • How are the parents involved?

What are the experiences of students together with their parents, about leaving school and moving to the next stage in their lives?

What are the components of this transition?

How do the educators and providers manage their roles in this activity?

How are the parents involved?

Enablers and barriers in this process are discussed through Papay and Bambara’s (2014) five practices, together with practical suggestions of how parents and professionals can work together to support young adults with special needs.



Research with parents of children with disabilities indicates one of the major hindrances to collaboration with professionals is difficulty with trust. However, it is also known that student outcomes are improved when there is a positive working relationship between parents, educators, and students, one that is founded on trust. This chapter explores the foundational constructs of trust and its role in parent-professional collaboration, from both literature in the field and the chapters contained in this volume. It suggests that trust is an essential component in securing identity, opportunity, and belonging, and offers strategies for (re-)building home-school collaborative partnerships based on principles of trust.

Cover of Working with Families for Inclusive Education
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International Perspectives on Inclusive Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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