Individualizing Care and Education When serving an individual child, the provider should focus on the child’s needs, not the disability or its label. Working with the family and the service providers, teachers can provide individualized care and education for the child’s unique needs and strengths, just as they should be doing for each and every child in their classroom. As each child is unique, so is each child care program. There is no magic formula for making inclusion work beyond the creativity, energy, and interest that most child care providers already bring to their work. Their uniqueness notwithstanding, every program is able to successfully include children with disabilities. And each makes it work child by child, day by day. Some children need small changes to the curriculum or minor supports in order to get the most out of certain activities. These sorts of things may consist of fairly simple accommodations, such as providing a special place or quiet activity for a child who is unable to participate in large- group activities or making available a special snack for a child who needs to eat more frequently than the typical meal or snack schedule. Other children may require more specific adaptations that might not be readily apparent. A variety of community resources can be helpful in determining what those might be. The family, for example, is always the first and most important guide for what a child might need; after that, an area specialist or a local workshop might be. Beyond the immediate community, a world of literature in books, periodicals, and Web sites devoted to disabilities and inclusion can inform a child care provider about appropriate adaptations for a child with a particular condition or need. Programs that begin with a high-quality, developmentally appropriate foundation; a positive attitude on the part of the care provider; appropriate adult–child ratios; supportive administrators; and adequate training for the provider will be in a good position to creatively solve problems for a child with disabilities or other special needs, exactly as it does for children who are typically developing. If a child already has an established diagnosis, trained intervention personnel may be available to assist in this process.
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