By Dawn Kovacovich, Hubbard County
My 28-year-old daughter, Laura Kovacovich is a special young woman who has asked me to share her point of view on what it means to be “fully integrated.” Laura was born three months premature with multiple disabilities including autism, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and severe vision and hearing loss.
She has an outstanding memory, and with one-to-one paraprofessional support, Laura was able to successfully attend public school in a “fully integrated” setting with non-disabled peers. At the time, my husband and I felt that this model would provide Laura with the best education possible. However, due to the severity of her anxiety and social limitations, this would not have been possible without having one-to-one paras who provided daily communication with us and stayed at Laura’s side to provide needed assistance.
Many people think of integration only from the perspective of what they want for themselves. What they don’t usually think about is what it might feel like to always be in the minority. Our family observed how Laura absolutely blossomed every year when she attended summer camp with other autistic children.