A Kennebecasis Valley father is concerned about what increasing criticism of the province's inclusion policy in schools may mean for his autistic daughter.
Alex Mouland, whose daughter Kate attends elementary school, said he's worried what will happen if the government moves away from including students with intellectual, behavioural and physical challenges in classrooms
"I am fearful of the day when Kate isn't allowed to go into class with her peers, because she absolutely loves it," said Mouland.
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"When you have a child with autism like Kate, it's very difficult for her to make friends ... it doesn't come easy to her."
Portrayal in media
This week CBC New Brunswick has published stories raising questions about the inclusion policy in the province's schools. Mouland said these stories don't show the whole picture.
"When the CBC reports on this very complicated, nuanced situation, it's hard to get the whole story into a 10-minute, four-minute radio story, or TV story," said Mouland.
"I don't think the CBC is doing the issue justice."
One story Mouland took issue with was one about how inclusion may be hurting students who excel academically by removing accelerated courses.
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Mouland said nothing in the inclusion model prohibits those courses from being offered and it's an issue with districts choosing not to offer them.
"To make the parallel that the inclusion model is the reason for those struggles and those concerns ... I just don't believe that that's valid," said Mouland.
Mouland said inclusion works well for his daughter Kate and the school has been supportive.
"The school's been fantastic. They're on board, they want Kate in the class, they want her with her peers," said Mouland.
Mouland said inclusion allows Kate to have as close to a normal school day as she can.
"Her day's just like every other kid's day really. We try to keep it as normal for her as possible," said Mouland.
'It's not going to work perfect for everyone.' - Alex Mouland, father
One of the only differences Mouland said Kate has is her service dog, but her classmates have gotten used to it.
"He's become a real part of the class and he gets his picture taken at picture time and all that stuff," said Mouland.
Mouland acknowledges that some people haven't had positive experiences with inclusion, but he also cautions against doing away with it.
"It's not going to work perfect for everyone, it's not working perfect for Kate. It's pretty good, but it's not perfect," said Mouland.
"I remember in my school days, when we didn't have inclusion, it wasn't all that perfect either."