|Inclusion can be easier than you think!|
All too often, the answer provided is either (1) create a separate setting or situation in which "those" people can be "comfortable" or (2) teach the people to handle a difficult setting or set of expectations.
All too rarely, there is consideration of the possibility that, with just a few minor changes, the setting and its expectations can be changed to accommodate people, rather than vice versa. Even when those changes cost nothing except an hour, a few minutes, or even a few seconds -- and nothing more.
How is this possible in a museum setting? Here are just a few examples for your consideration.
1. A family with an autistic child arrives at your museum at the most crowded hour of the week -- 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. The child is quickly overwhelmed by the noise and crowds, and the parents ask advice at the information booth. The museum spokesperson can shrug his shoulders or recommend that the family attend a "special" autism event. Or he could take 45 seconds to provide a return voucher so that the family can come back at a quieter moment -- possibly tomorrow morning before noon!
2. A group of autistic adults will be visiting the museum as part of a social skills program. They would like to learn about the impressionists, but have a hard time processing fast-paced spoken language. The tour guide can decide that she is a lecturer, and thus has nothing to offer this group -- who should take advantage of "special" offerings. Or she can take five minutes ask a colleague who works with children to lend her some hands-on materials that will help her to communicate more effectively with an interested group of adults.
3. A teen with Asperger syndrome would like to be included in an ongoing workshop or class, but cannot sit still for more than a few minutes without needing to get up and move. The instructor can just say no, or suggest that the teen take part in a "special" program. Or he can spend a few minutes modifying the program so that short breaks are built in for all participants.
None of these changes are difficult or complex. None require an extra nickel. None require more than an hour of extra time. None require great concessions or sacrifices on the part of a "typical" community.
Why are such changes, then, so rare?