This month’s Bright Spot comes from Barbara Rizzo, a Special Education teacher at Ossining High School who has been attending the RSE-TASC Forum, a group developed by educators who exclusively serve students with more severe developmental and intellectual disabilities.

What were students able to achieve?

Barbara wanted to  integrate her students more into the school community and the larger community.  As a result of efforts over the year, she reports that:

  • Students are interacting with non-classified peers at a much higher rate, and are initiating these interactions themselves.
  • Students’ expressive language skills have increased.
  • Problematic behaviors that sometimes made integration challenging have decreased.

What practices or systems made this possible?

Barbara actively sought out settings and activities where her students could engage with non-classified peers.  She also identified work sites in the community where her students could have increased interactions with a wide range of individuals in the community.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

From the CEEDAR Center’s publication Evidence-Based Practices for Students with Severe Disabilities, we know that individuals with severe disabilities demonstrate markedly increased numbers of social interactions with peer support, and that  peers without disabilities improve or maintain their academic performance while providing these supports.  Ensuring inclusive schools and communities helps everyone!