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Essentials for Building an Inclusive Community in Your Classroom

Essentials for Building an Inclusive Community in Your Classroom


Course Description

Day 1: OrPATS – This training opportunity will provide preschool staff, child care staff and Head Start staff with a greater understanding of working with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) enrolled at their center. Topics include learning characteristics of ASD, behavioral strategies, and simple activities to encourage social and language skill development. This workshop will provide specific examples of evidence-based practices that can be implemented immediately in the child care setting.

Day 2: Young children come to our programs in many packages: confident, discouraged, shy, homeless, uncertain, and/or experiencing diagnosed or undiagnosed disabilities. As children enter daycare and/or preschool programs it is usually their first time being in a group of children and under the authority of other adults who are not part of their family group. Therefore, it is vital for the staff to intentionally help develop meaningful relationships, positive and safe learning environments and expectations while individualizing, based on what each child needs….INCLUSION!

Day 3: Research shows that inclusive practices, accommodations and intentional resilience building strategies create high quality learning environments for children with and without disabilities. Participants will explore their own teaching practices to create a foundation of access to inclusive programs and authentic relationships while implementing further learning opportunities for children.

Course Objectives

Participants will:

  • Explain why teachers need to focus on building relationships for an emotionally safe and nurturing learning environment
  • Describe how to create ‘community’ in their programs by promoting intentional social opportunities while children play and learn together.
  • Give examples of how to prevent most discipline problems by developing activities, learning opportunities and routines that are appropriate to each child.
  • Understand how to modify standard activities/expectations for most children
  • Define, give examples, and tell the benefits of ‘meaningful work’.
  • Working with your ECSE IFSP team, consultants, preschool team, and others to make inclusion work



Alicia Balfrey, received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and her Master’s in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Oregon. She has worked in the early childhood education field for many years. Alicia’s career in special education started with providing in-home applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to students with autism and other special needs. After receiving her teaching license and Master’s degree in EI/ECSE, she worked for Early Childhood CARES at the University of Oregon where she taught and supervised an ECSE classroom for children with autism, implementing the STAR Curriculum and served as an OrPATS model training site. Alicia has led trainings on a variety of topics managing challenging behaviors, teaching play and social skills, building functional communications skills, and using evidence-based strategies with students with autism.

Jennifer Edwards, M.Ed., is a retired Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Inclusion Specialist.  As an adjunct instructor for Oregon State University – Cascades Campus, she teaches pre-service teachers/human services professionals strategies when including children and youth experiencing disabilities in their programs and classrooms.  She also teaches workshops in classroom management, building relationships and exploring nature with young children. She is a member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and is a committee member for the spring Early Learning Conference, Bend, OR.  When Jen isn’t working she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and family, volunteering and exploring in the National Parks with her husband, and relaxing by the creek in her backyard.

Patirica Roussel is an Inclusion Specialist at Inclusive Partners supporting early childhood educators throughout the State of Oregon.  Inclusive Partners assists child care and before and afterschool providers to be more successful in sustaining inclusive environments for all the children in their care, especially those with higher needs. As a Community Trainer and then Master Trainer since 2001, Trish has worked with professionals on a variety of topics to promote best practices in the field of early childhood care and education.   When not working, Trish loves to spend time with family, try new recipes and curse referees interfering in her football teams’ success!

Intended Audience

EI/ECSE Specialists, Early Childcare Providers, Preschool Teachers