Inclusion starts with the assumption that all children belong in the regular classroom with their age peers in the school where they would typically go if they were not [developmentally disabled]. As Doug Biklen has pointed out, it is important to presume competence in all students. Never assume, for instance, a student who is not able to speak is unable to understand and learn. As Jeff and Cindy Strully say about their daughter Shawntell:

We just don't know what people are thinking when they have no reliable and consistent communication system. One day maybe Shawntell will have a communication system/method which will allow her to tell us what she is thinking. Until that time, we want everyone to talk to her and act as if she understands even though we may not know for sure. This is the high road to take on behalf of Shawntell.

Photo courtesy Ann Marsden

Child in a classroom
56