There is a saying in the world of disability advocacy. The saying is, “all means all”.
I like the idea behind “all means all” because I definitely don’t like the reality of life as I often experience it.
A lot of times, “all” doesn’t include me. All doesn’t really include students with hidden disabilities. It doesn’t mean my classmate who also has autism but who didn’t have the benefit of the intensive therapies I’ve had. It doesn’t always mean someone who would like to apply for a scholarship but has a writing disability. “All” may not mean a student who could do really well on a math competition if they were allowed to use the accommodations they use during the regular school day or for standardized tests, like extended time. Or a student who could be eligible for an honor society - if only they had the stamina to do the required hours of volunteer work. Or had a ride in an accessible vehicle to get to and from meetings.
In each of these cases, “all” really means “all except”.
All - except:
people who need help organizing their thoughts or words or projects because their brains are wired differently
people who need medications to get through a day
people who need more time - to read, to speak, to write, to compute, to respond
people who need instructions repeated or reworded
people who can’t sit still for extended periods of time
All - except:
people whose medications impact their appetite or stamina or focus
people who might not do well in an interview but who could write or record their responses . . . and the inverse: people who can’t write a good essay but definitely know the material
people who can’t afford therapies or consultants or advisors
people whose differences cannot be easily assessed, whose development doesn’t follow a straight line, who think & express themselves in atypical ways
People like me.
I have a history of coming up with my own sayings. My family calls them “jackisms”. I am saying to you today that the only way to make full inclusion a reality is to make sure that “all means me”.
And each of us.
“All means me” needs to be the measuring stick to see how we are doing on the path to full inclusion - for each of us. For all of us.