“While everyone in the special education department was acknowledged, my sister wasn’t.”
This comes from a passionate Facebook post from Claudia DeFabio who’s sister Glenda who has special needs, was not included in Watchung Hills Regional High School yearbook which you can read below.
As a public speaker, I often talk about the importance of inclusion, especially in our schools. When inclusion works, it means we need to actually make sure everyone has the opportunity to be included. Digging deeper into the story I found out from NJ 101.5 that “the older than 12th grade weren’t specifically listed” meaning, those who stay in High School until 21. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a story of someone with special needs being left out of the yearbook and I wanted to speak up about it. I immediately thought about my journey growing up on the autism spectrum and how much I enjoyed seeing myself in the yearbook and the joy I had getting others to write in my book with memories of our high school experiences. I felt sad that Glenda would not have that same opportunity.
Luckily, just hours after the Facebook Post went up on June 18th, 2020, the school later decided to make the decision for a ‘supplemental yearbook’ which would include Glenda’s name.
I hope for those reading this who may have had an experience where they or their child was not included that you’d message me on my Facebook Page and let me know about your story. We need more inclusion. As my dear friend Dr. Temple Grandin, a fellow public speaker & autism self-advocate says, “Different, not less.”
Please continue to advocate for inclusion for all. Thanks everyone.
Check out my workshop where I’ll be discussing helping a child with autism through puberty. Learn more here.