From Presence to Contribution: A Family's Journey Towards an Inclusive Life

At one year old, Maggie was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome. Including her in the regular classroom was difficult, especially when her teachers saw her as a burden on other students. However, after meeting adults with significant disabilities who were receiving support to lead ordinary lives, Maggie’s family broadened their idea of “inclusion”. Erin Sheldon shares three strategies that built the foundation for Maggie's future: person-centered planning, elevation of expectations for parents and educators by understanding language and literacy development, and focus on natural supports and strong friendships. Erin speaks internationally on the topics of school inclusion, emergent literacy and language development, and assistive technology. She has authored articles, book chapters, and manuals for classroom teachers and parents, and works with school teams to support students with complex learning needs to learn to use communication systems and succeed in inclusive classrooms.