TIES Center is the national technical assistance center on inclusive practices and policies. Its purpose is to create sustainable changes in kindergarten-grade 8 school and district educational systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers while being instructed in a way that meets individual learning needs.
Lemonade in the Time of Corona
By Taina Karru-Olsen
I am a single-minded problem solver by nature. This attribute is not universally favored, and often marks me as insensitive, void of empathy, and a bad listener. My natural inclination to shove lemons through a lemonade press has served our family well in the pandemic, however. What we’ve also had going for us is that our kid, a brilliant third-grader named Aune, who has humbly decided to become the first-ever astronaut with Down syndrome, is extremely persistent, passionate, and a master of adapting to change.
In January 2020, our family of three was ready for an amazing year. Aune was having a hard-won second-grade experience fully included in her neighborhood school, while the school was well on its way to becoming the kind of meaningfully inclusive elementary of which I’d always dreamed. The breadwinner, Ken, had new and interesting professional challenges. And the nonprofit organization I co-founded, Inclusion For ALL, was fast developing into a valuable resource in the state of Washington, not just for families and disabled students but for school districts as well.
2020 was going to be excellent – or, as the youth say, litty.
On January 20, the first U.S. COVID-19 case was discovered. The patient went into isolation at a hospital in Everett, Washington, 20 miles from where we live. I registered this as a minor local news event.
On January 23, I went for a walk with a friend, fell down in mud, and broke my ankle. Granted, this wasn’t the exact definition of litty, but I still imagined the biggest challenge ahead was navigating an upcoming inclusion conference on crutches.
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