I just watched this over at my school, Manchester (NH) West High. “Including Samuel” is not just another documentary nor another movie that shows people with disabilities. This movie shows how we should treat special people the same we as we do with different races.I’m Asian and I know how it feels, that somehow, some people might think I don’t belong. We’re just being discriminated through our skin color. Children being discriminated because of their physical and mental disabilities is such an absurd thing to do. Mr. Habib, thank you for sharing your movie in our school. It’s a real life-changing movie.
~ Jadine - Manchester, NH
I watched the 12-minute trailer to the video today. I was touched and inspired. I too have great expectations for my child. I have a 10-year-old son with Autism and my East Texas school district has a heart for inclusion. After watching the trailer, my husband told me that before he had a child diagnosed with a disability–if he ever encountered someone with a visible handicap his reaction would be to look away or avoid eye contact because he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. Living so close to someone with a disability has taught him how important it is to look that person in the eye and say, “Hello.” Inclusion teaches peers how to see the person first and not the disability.
~ Melanie - Longview, TX
I was touched by your work and realized that part of my frustration as a teacher is related to the issues brought up in the film. I aspire to work in a district that educates all students in an environment that prepares them to tackle the tough social issues that they confront outside of school.
~ Marc - Upstate, NY
I love what I saw of your film on the website. My son Ryan, now 22, was the first multiply handicapped child fully integrated into nursery school, then kindergarten and ultimately graduated with his peers from Glens Falls schools in upstate New York. Ryan has Cerebral Palsy and cannot talk, walk, sit up or feed himself. Ryan went to the prom TWICE! And was in the National Honor Society. He got a standing ovation as he was wheeled across the stage by his aide to receive his diploma.
~ Patricia - Albany, NY
My support group showed your documentary on April 2, 2009. It moved me, and gave me hope that it can be done. My child who has Down syndrome will be in an inclusive environment next year for kindergarten and let me tell you, it’s hard getting them to open up their minds a little and think out of the box. But it can be done. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. It has made a world of difference.
~ Nikki - Akron, OH
My favorite part of “Including Samuel” (aside from seeing Samuel and his brother together) is listening to Keith Jones speak about his experiences going through school. When I’m adapting activities for my student at school I hear Keith in my head saying, “I don’t want popsicle sticks and glue, I want math!” and it keeps me focused on making sure activities are always age appropriate and meaningful. He is so inspirational.
~ Renee Laporte
That was an amazing movie to watch. I was totally inspired. I hope that anyone that will see this movie takes this to heart. Samuel was so happy, and adorable, and his brother was so caring. I hope that my own school might become inclusive one day. I think it would make a huge change in the whole community.
~ Hayley - Manchester, NH
Got a chance to see this beautiful film and meet Dan. My son and I both enjoyed it. You remind me of our family. Determination,humor, love, and believing in your child drives you to look forward and look at the positive things our children can do. I am a proud mother of a son, George, who has completed high school and just recently graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a degree in Social Work. Dream… Believe…Have faith. With the right supports anything is possible. Thank you and your family for such a wonderful film.
~ Darleen - New Orleans, LA
I wanted to share a story with you about how “Including Samuel” continues to impact students with disabilities here in Rochester. Last year a local teacher brought her administrator and a few others to the Rochester screening and then the district purchased the video for themselves and began to show it in one particular high school and teachers. After that the administrator encouraged and really pushed forward the inclusion efforts for some of their self-contained students. Students are now taking photography classes as well as other electives that ALL students in the school can take. The teacher talked about how pleased the students and parents are and continue to be… all because of the catalyst: “Including Samuel.”
~ Martha E. Mock, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor, Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities
University of Rochester
Our daughter, Amber, was born with congenital hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and requires a shunt to drain her cerebral fluid.It has caused severe disabilities which have left her wheelchair bound and nonverbal…but, extremely happy and very social. She attends a district preschool, a “regular” preschool. So far, our experience has been wonderful. My family, like your family, wants her included in every aspect of what life has to offer. This is my mission. My plan is to go to the director of special education in hoping to include your film in part of their training — for teachers, paras, and the special education teams. You have given the world a wonderful and extraordinary tool by making this film.
~ Pam - Minneapolis, MN
As a parent of a child who is also daily trying to figure out inclusion, I’m so grateful to see another parent forging the same path. At times, I feel like a pioneer. Most of the time I feel very alone in the quest. Most of the time I feel very happy about the decisions I’m making, but sometimes I wonder if it’s worth all the difficulties. This helps me to remember: it is!
~ Christine - Atlanta, GA
I had Indiana University purchase a copy for the library last year, and have now seen the film at least five times. I watched it this morning with a class I am teaching and it is amazing to watch others watching for the first time as well as to find it just as meaningful after multiple viewings. I am so glad that you are getting these stories out and touching peoples lives in this way!
~ Steve - Bloomington, Indiana
Inclusion is not just about school. Inclusion begins with family and
community before the child is even school age. It is a mindset that I
don’t believe we know how to help young families get to so that by the
time they get to school age they believe their child is a part of the
community. And through school age, inclusion is still larger than the
classroom. If you are never invited to a birthday party, never go to or
have a sleepover with friends, never participate in out of school
activities then there are missed opportunities. Ultimately, the outcome
is that the child experiences the inclusion through their relationships
that will carry them past school age and into adulthood. Ultimately the
goal is for each person to live his or her life.
~ Meryl Newman Berk - San Diego, CA
I was so touched when you showed the film at Concord (NH) High School. My friends and I are still talking about it.
~ Laura Lynn - Concord, NH
The video that Dan Habib brought to show our school really touched my
heart and I would love more than anything to meet Samuel someday.
~ Ashley Gaskell - Penacook, NH
Thank you, Dan, for the film. It has made an enormous difference in my life, my husband's life, and Robert's life (he's our 11-year-old son with basal ganglia disease). Everything that you articulate for Samuel is what we want for Robert--some of the qualities that Robert and Samuel share, and the parallels between our lives and the glimpses of your family's life that are portrayed in the film have allowed other people in our lives to truly understand what we go through on a daily basis.
Most importantly, though, the Inclusion Week our school held (for which staff were trained in part by watching the film), has finally allowed my typically developing daughter (younger than Robert) to start to articulate and come to terms with her own feelings about her brother. We have not yet shown her "Including Samuel", but we plan to soon.
Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
~ Jeneva Burroughs Stone - Washington, DC
We had a screening here in Davis, California with 125 people. We had parents, family members, teachers (both general and special ed), a school board member, preschool teachers and many friends.
"Including Samuel" is changing and touching so many lives and I thank you for preseneting what many of us parents have been trying to say for years.
~ Diane Casey, Co-Chair, SKIES Parent's Group
Dan--You have made such an impact world-wide I am speechless. I know that you have met millions of people but I have to tell you that I have a special picture of Samuel in his famous baseball pose with my daughter, who also has Cerebral Palsy, and every time she sees it she just says "there is my buddy Samuel." It warms my heart
~ Michele Theresa
I just wanted to thank you so much for showing your film at Concord
(NH) High School. I am a senior there and I really was touched by this
film. People don’t know a lot about inclusion or really much about
people with disabilities at all. I never really knew much until my
cousin was almost killed in a skateboarding accident. He wasn’t wearing
a helmet and fell and hit his head and got an incredibly bad head
injury. For a while we didn’t know if he was going to make it. He is
alive today, but he is now disabled. And he is one of the funniest
people that I know. He really brings a lot to this world and I really
am proud to call him my cousin.
~ Amy Farrar - Concord, NH
Your film energized me as we start our school journey with our
4-year-old son who has Down Syndrome. I also work in schools and have
seen both the power of inclusion first hand. When it is done well, it
is amazing gift to all involved.
I was also touched by the observation that full inclusion happens in
families all the time. Not so long ago, this was not the case. I have
lived both sides of that. My sister had Down Syndrome and lived in a
group home far from us. I never had the opportunity to know her. For as
long as I can remember, I’ve felt that I would have been a fuller and
richer person to have had the opportunity to grow up with my sister.
Including Samuel made me laugh and cry and then cheer. I fell in love
with both of your boys. I can’t wait to bring it to my child’s school
for them to view it. So they can understand why I fight so hard for my
son to be treated just like any other child even if it makes their job
a little harder. My son is now successfully included in the regular
education classes at school but there is so much more to be done. The
community needs to realize that our children and loved ones are
valuable members of society and deserve respect.
~ Toni Peters - Baton Rouge, LA
I shared parts of the film with my school district, as we have embarked
on a large inclusion initiative. I’ve seen the film several times
myself, and each time, learn something new. It provides the practical
emotional “compelling why” to inclusion. I suggest it highly for any
~ Dion Betts - Philadelphia, PA
Thank you so much for creating this video and this group. I oversee the
inclusion initiative for a large parks and recreation department. I
have begun using the video as a part of my Introduction to Inclusion
training. This training is given to all of our part time staff who work
directly in our youth programs. It has been so effective in showing the
staff from a parent and individual who has the special need’s
perspective the importance of being a part of the larger group. Thank
you Samuel for allowing us to get a glimpse of your life!
~ Colleen Wittig - Norfolk, VA
My name is Gail Lipe, the daughter of a 76-year-old woman who has
spastic cerebral palsy. Reading the confusion you and your wife had
when Samuel was a baby was like reading my mother’s story. My
grandmother knew something was wrong, but the doctors kept telling her
that since my mother was a premature baby, she was just developing
slower. I think my mother was about 3 years old before they had an
accurate diagnosis. We are talking about the mid 1930s, and the idea
that a feeble body meant a feeble mind was prevalent.
Well-meaning extended family suggested my grandparents put my mother in
an institution so everyone could get on with their lives. I am so glad
my grandparents chose not to do that. “The Lord has more for Gail (my
mother) to do than to sit in a corner and drool,” was my grandmother’s
response. She attended public school and was in mainstream classes from
about third grade on, which to me seems incredible for the time. She
also attended college, worked at a dance studio and volunteered at the
USO, which is where she met my dad. Her life has been a series of
milestones and miracles. My mother has done a lot, been a lot to a lot
of people and continues to inspire. I believe the same will be true for
~ Gail Lipe - Chaska, MN
What makes your film my favorite, among a dozen I have seen or used
over the years to make the same points? Some factors would be the
quality and smoothness of the production (superficial, yes, but it thus
presents less distraction to learners), the variety of difficulties
faced by people portrayed, the personalization of the issues by the
film’s subjects and commentators (viewers seem especially impressed by
Keith Jones), how excruciatingly cute Samuel is, and (number one in my
book) the portrayal of the relationship of Samuel and his brother,
whose obviously very high intellectual level is enhanced, not impeded,
by Samuel’s presence in his life (and love).
~ Jack Yates, Staff Trainer, People, Incorporated
Fall River, MA
What I think is very, very powerful about the film, is that regardless
of the specific disability the themes are universal. You and Betsy both
speak about inclusion as a question of human rights, akin to the
exclusion of people on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, primary
language or social position.
Inclusive education is not just about disabled students or special
education. Inclusive schooling is a continuing movement against
educational and ultimately social exclusion and believing that everyone
is capable of making a contribution.
The Massachusetts Department of Education has asked me to continue to
work with 17 districts on the development of their inclusive school
models. I can’t say enough about how useful it is to have this
documentary to engage around the issues and realities of creating an
inclusive community. I suggested to the DOE audience that they may want
to show this to their faculties, central office administrators, school
~ Joe Petner
Educational Consultant and former Principal, the Haggerty School
Like you, we have 2 children. Kinsey is very severely impacted by her
medical issues. She is now 14 years old and a very happy girl. She does
not talk, walk or sit up, but she sure shows her love for the people
around her. Kinsey was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder,
epilepsy, mental retardation, legally blind and severe developmental
Inclusion for me has always had 2 sides. On the one hand, I want Kinsey
as much involved with the community as possible, both for herself as
well as for the rest of the community. On the other hand, she can be
very distracting in a classroom setting and that might interfere with
the academic skills the other students are trying to reach. Even though
Kinsey is not included in a regular classroom, I think of her attending
public middle school as a form or inclusion. She is certainly closer to
the community than she would be in an institution.
Besides that, it’s also interesting to think back of my own home
country, the Netherlands. Even thought the Netherlands is known as a
very liberal and socialistic country in many ways, inclusion is still
not the norm. Like you, I did not grow up with friends or classmates
with disabilities, and that is still true for children growing up today
in the Netherlands.
~ Rob Evers - Nashua, NH
My wife and I sat and watched your movie tonight and were totally
moved. We have lived your story. Our daughter is currently 19 and she
has survived the public school system in limited inclusion fashion.
Elementary school was good and the teachers were receptive to
inclusion. Middle school was a bear and high school practically
The kids were great, general ed staff was good but the Special Ed staff
were our nemesis. IEP meetings had 15–20 people attending, sometimes
school attorneys showed up. It became a battle of wits.
On the family side, our kids are great with each other. The older 2
boys worship their sister and we continue to be our daughter’s
~ Ron Goldstein - Plymouth, MN
On the day of your film screening at Merrimack Valley HS my daughter came home totally pumped!
When I asked her what the immediate impact was she told me that one of
her closest friends often uses the word “retarded” which bothers Rachel
but she has never been willing to say anything. After the movie Rachel
noticed her friend make a specific effort to change her language. It
may seem like a little thing but it was appreciated by Rachel! You see
my oldest son, her brother, has multiple disabilities. Thanks for all
you’ve done for our kids and their siblings!
~ Terry Ohlson-Martin, Co-Director, NH Family Voices
I always get many feelings when I see your film. It brings emotional
tears, it brings critical analysis of schools and society’s grasp
special education and inclusion, while also developing a strong sense
of hope. Every time I watch the film, it is amazing; it brings up new
things that touch me.
~ Joe Hatch, Facilitator, NH Connections
- Manchester, NH
My students and I just finished a fantastic discussion prompted by the
showing of your film, “Including Samuel”, at our school. Aside from my
professional connection, I was very moved on a personal level. At 35, I
discovered that I am pregnant with my first child (I am now 14 weeks).
Because of my age and other factors, I have been encouraged to get an
amniocentesis to discover whether or not my baby might have Down
Syndrome or other genetic diseases/disabilities. I had a very frank
conversation with my partner the other day about what we would do if
the tests came back positive and I have to say that terminating such a
pregnancy was not out of the question. After watching your film, in my
heart, I found myself changed. I have a great deal to learn about what
it means to be accepting and also what value any life can have. Thank
you for making me uncomfortable…for making me think.
~ Teacher, Merrimack Valley High School
I am the father of one-year-old twins, a boy, Drake, and a girl, Lucy.
Our twins were born more than two months premature. Drake has
development delays and the many doctors, therapists and nurses who see
him, although cautious and conservative in their prognosis, generally
forecast CP. It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for my wife and me,
to say the least. We’ve gone through all the stages, but mostly we are
angry, depressed or in denial as we wait for the other shoe to drop and
prepare for an unexpected life. We try not to dwell in little dark
holes we’ve filled with self-pity, but we have so many unanswerable
questions, at least in the short term: Will he be able to walk? Talk?
Feed himself? Fend for himself? Can we live in our home or will we need
to move? Where will he go to school?
I have found it very difficult to share our situation with friends, even family.
So, when I watched your documentary on our local PBS station, it was
not only informative, it was also cathartic. I cried during and after,
for your son and mine, your family and mine, out of sadness and anger,
and even relief. Ultimately, your film was a ray of hope and optimism
and encouragement. Like your adorable son, Drake is the happiest little
boy, who loves people and laughter and tries so hard to do things that
his sister already does with ease. We talk about Samuel or Keith nearly
every day. We are learning to look at the world in a more compassionate
I am also a journalist, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have
covered education, and seen the benefits of inclusion. It never
occurred to me that it’s something I may advocate for in the future for
~Andy Becker, Parent
As an Educational Team Facilitator for the Melrose (MA) Public Schools
I purchased your film for our district last years as a Christmas gift.
Each time I share “Including Samuel” I find people begin to think more
personally about inclusion; their hopes, their fears, their
~Donna Rosso - Melrose (MA) Public Schools
For the past 2 years our Special Education PTA has had a Disability
Film Festival. Our Directors of Special Ed were there along with the
Superintendant of our school and the Council President of the PTA along
with some teachers and aids but mostly parents. The Superintendant said
“Your film was mesmerizing!!!!” They asked us for the copy to show at a
professional development class for the teachers!!!! You did it, Dan !!
You actually got our administrators interested in inclusion!!!! It’s a
~Madeline London, Co-President
SEPTA Huntington School District
I am a student in my junior year at the Rhode Island School of Design.
My family went through a really hard and not very successful struggle
for my brother’s inclusive education. I thought I understood what it
was all about, but I was completely unprepared for the effect that your
movie would have on me. Over the past few months I have been designing
and beginning to build a chair for an eight-year-old boy with cerebral
palsy I work with at home, named Garrett. The goal is to support him so
he can sit at the lunch table benches with his peers. Working on this
project exposed me to a lot of doubt. Over and over I explain who
Garrett is and what he needs to my classmates and they really don’t
understand. They are freaked out, or they feel sorry for him or they
don’t see why he should sit with his peers at all when he can’t talk to
them. They don’t see the point of putting so much energy, time and
money into including him. I’ve been getting tired of explaining it, but
I was completely reenergized by your film. So often the fight for
inclusion is about the value to the included individual, the civil
rights violation, and the laws, when really, what it should be about is
the enormous losses suffered by our community when we don’t have the
opportunity to get to know people with disabilities. I just wanted to
thank you, because I will cherish seeing Garrett with his classmates at
lunch so much more, and I will pursue inclusion in my own design
practice with greater fervor, because of your perspective.
~Miriam Zisook - RISD Industrial Design student '10
“Including Samuel” is a wonderful film. One of its best attributes is
that it doesn’t portray full inclusion as the only option for all kids.
That decision needs to be based on the individual needs of each child.
And it clearly demonstrates the struggles that families encounter as
they learn about their child with a disability, his strengths and
needs, and how others see him.
I teach special education policy at the George Washington University
and have used the film in my classes to help teacher candidates to
understand varying perspectives on inclusion and the role of parents in
the special education process. I’ve also shown it to veteran teachers
for the same purpose in professional development sessions on inclusive
practices and the status of federal special education law.
~Patti Ralabate, Interim Associate Director, NEA Education Policy and Practice Department
- Washington, DC
The film is exceptional. I have shown the film to 2 groups of students
in a course called Young Children’s Special Needs. After many tears
were shed, my students talked about their own experiences with children
with special needs — either their own or children they have worked with
in classrooms. I would love to see a follow up — how is Samuel doing as
he grows older and has a variety of different challenges to deal with?
~ Prof. Janet Kibbee, Program Coordinator, Early Childhood Education
Lakes Region Community College, New Hampshire
Sensational! I showed it to staff at the Empowerment center and to
parents at a regional conference. The audiences think it a powerful
tool for inclusion. They felt the participants were very honest and
spoke from their heart.
~Kat Lowrance, Executive Director
Rowell Family Empowerment of Northern California
In our own scholastic/IEP journey with our child we made “Including
Samuel” a discussion point at IEP meetings. The team was definitely
impacted by IS and were ready to move. Shortly thereafter we purchased
an institutional copy of IS and loaned it to the school so that
everyone had the opportunity to see it, and the school took the ball
and ran with it. The school has worked hard to incorporate the
principles of IS into the school. We believe that IS has had a profound
impact on our school and our child’s life there. It has opened up and
enabled a dialogue. Everyone’s life is enriched through inclusion. It
isn’t necessarily easy, but it is necessary.
~Stephen Walker, Parent
- Hearing Dan Habib speak makes me question anyone who could possibly go against this.
was overwhelmed by a number of new thoughts and feelings. All students
should be reaching the same curricula goals through means that best
support their needs.
- The film caused me to reconsider my
initial viewpoint that special education inclusion would negatively
affect able-bodied students in classes with inclusion.
was extremely refreshing to see the passion in those teachers who were
adamant supporters of inclusion. Moreover, this model of inclusion
teaches youths how to operate and behave in a microcosm that reflects
the organic make up of society at large.
- When I hear of
stories like those of Samuel and Nathaniel, where inclusion is working,
it is really encouraging, because I do think inclusion, ideally, is the
best way to educate. Learning in such an inclusive environment would be
best for everyone involved, and would most appropriately prepare
students for a very diverse world.
- I am really inspired by the film to do whatever I can to create a completely inclusive and accepting environment in my class.
film this week literally left me speechless. It was touching to get a
glimpse of life from a completely different perspective.
“Including Samuel” gave me faith that inclusion could be accomplished
sooner and more successfully than many anticipate. Still, it rightfully
does not imply that teachers, administrators, and families will not
have to keep working hard constantly to meet changing demands for
- Seeing the video footage really helped me connect
with the subject matter of inclusion in a way that just reading about
it did not.
~ Brown University Education Students
“Including Samuel” is one of the best films and tools for global
community and school enlightenment/conversations I have ever had the
pleasure and honor of seeing!
~ Lauri Medeiros
Metro Boston Mass Families Organizing for Change
We showed the film to special education administrators, special
education teachers and general education teachers. A three-day workshop
on co-teaching and collaborative teaching followed the film. The film
is the perfect film to demonstrate good inclusion practices and Samuel
is a cutie patootie!
~ Roxanna Carpenter, Special Services Coordinator
Baldwin County Board of Education
After the film, we engaged in a lengthy discussion about what a high
school education, for anyone, is supposed to be about. It made us
re-examine what the point of education is in the first place. We spoke
about the emphasis today on quantifiable accomplishments to the
detriment of developing moral, social, and spiritual skills (e.g.
understanding, acceptance, courage, gratitude).
It was an important reflection on what we value as a society as
reflected in what we teach (and don’t bother teaching) in our schools.
~ Paul Donahoe, Teacher
Central Catholic High School
You INSPIRED US! My niece was born with special needs (a very rare
genetic syndrome). This film made our family feel normal, like we could
make it in this world and survive a situation that strays from the
“norm”. Thank you for allowing us into your lives and your experience.
You and your family opened our minds about inclusion.
~ Allison C. - Miami, FL
It’s a wonderful, heartwarming, fun film. I really liked the different
vignettes you used to illustrate the challenges and successes with
inclusion. It was a very balanced film that let the viewer draw his/her
own conclusion. It leaves a lot of room for discussion afterwards.
~ Ilka Riddle, Project Director
Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware
“Including Samuel” is a “cutting edge tool” for training public school
staff. The video was presented within our district first to our special
education staff and was followed up with a workshop having that staff
rate where their buildings are in inclusion on a 4-point scale. This
has been followed up with workshops for principals and regular
education teachers. The remainder of these workshops centered around
next steps to being a totally inclusionary school district.
The film has proven to be very thought provoking and a great change agent in public schools.
~ George Spilker, Director of Special Services
Papillion La Vista Schools, Nebraska
Discussions following screening ranges widely depending on the
individuals — parents thinking about whether they pursue inclusion
enough in community; staff asking about who can provide training to
individuals in school and community; college professors feeling this
needs to be included in curriculum and the lack of special needs
education provided to future teachers at the college level; parent
advocates wondering why this can be so difficult to do and why the
parent needs to pursue the issue; teachers feeling they have no
The film raises awareness of inclusion as an issue for us as a
community, not just something for families of individuals with
disabilities to be concerned about.
~Joan Rafferty, Occupational Therapist/Program Coordinator
Criterion Child Enrichment/Central Region Consultation Program
We showed the film for parents, teachers, students, administrators,
policy makers and staff. The film generated tears, and passion about
how much we have to learn and who needs to see the film. I hope our
local school districts will see the value in making some positive
changes instead of thinking of “inclusion” as lunch, PE and art.
~ Lisa Robbe, MPA
Partnerships for Inclusion
Bonners Ferry, Idaho
“Including Samuel” is an amazing video. I have used it as a video case
study with both grad and undergrad students as well as with a school
system that did not believe that high support needs students could be
fully included. It is a video that all administrators and teachers
~ Mary Jo Dare, Clinical Associate Professor
Thank you for the beauty and wisdom and good sense of your film,
“Including Samuel”. This is the best documentation of family inclusion
(and educational efforts) that I’ve seen in thirty years. I was a
caseworker and supervisor in children's residential care (social
services) for many years.
~ Katherine H. Blonsky
We held the Vermont premiere of the film with Dan Habib. Over 300
people attended — parents, college students, teachers, administrators,
policy makers, community members and university faculty. I believe the
film will keep inclusion and social justice issues for people with
disabilities in the forefront of people's minds, and that it will raise
awareness about inclusive education and inspire action.
~Michael F. Giangreco, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Education
University of Vermont
Center on Disability and Community Inclusion
We showed the film for early childhood special education teachers,
administrators, and evaluators/agency reps. It was hosted by the
Westchester Institute for Human Development, one of 3 UCEDDs in New
I hoped it would bring to life the different viewpoints and potential
issues about inclusion for the age group we work with. I hoped that the
administrators would be better informed about WHY inclusive settings
should be striven for, for most children. At this juncture in NYS,
there is really no accounting for “quality” of inclusive settings at
the preschool level. It’s a hodgepodge of approaches, philosophies, etc.
Following the film — after handing out the tissues — we discussed the
importance of making inclusion work as best as possible for as many
children as it is warranted for. Which means bridging the worlds
between the special educators and the general educators out in nursery
schools and day care centers. It is quite a chasm!
For every educator, this should be mandatory viewing. And every parent of a child with a disability should watch this!
~Suzanne M. Peretz, M.S.Ed.
Director, Early Childhood Direction Center
Westchester Institute for Human Development
Following the viewing, many parents immediately opened up to share
their experiences within their families and communities. The families
learned from one another about strategies that have been used within
schools regarding education of professionals, peers, and other parents
about their children. Most parents felt that as the child gets into the
upper grades at school, more specialized services for academics are
needed and many times this is only achieved within a separate learning
environment. However, it was also recognized that if the staff within
the schools have appropriate training, learning could be done within
the general classroom environment. Everyone thought the film would be a
great teaching tool for families, schools, and the community.
~ Rachel Hirsch, Occupational Therapist
Belle Center of Chicago
We showed the film primarily to physical therapy students and physical
therapists. The audience was clearly moved by the film. We discussed
the realities of time constraints and impact that children with special
needs have on families; and how incredibly cute Samuel and his brother
I think this group of students will take a deeper, different
understanding of how multifaceted the children who receive PT services
are and how the provider needs to, at all times, consider all facets.
~ Kathleen Buccieri
Physical Therapist, Associate Professor
As an individual with a disability, I know what a struggle it is to
“hang in there.” Even as an adult, I still feel the stigma of
disability and see how difficult it is for my parents to cope with the
idea that their “child” has a more difficult time than others in
I appreciated how you put Samuel and your family in the center of the
battle that still rages between those who would choose to ignore
individuals with disabilities and those who fight every day to work on
issues of great importance that would bring children and adults into
mainstream society as much as possible.
~ Vicki Lynn Yrazabal Looney, Parent Education Coordinator
Idaho Parents Unlimited
I have well over 100 videos in my office and “Including Samuel” has had by far the most impact on everyone who watches it.
~ Vicki Barnitt, Coordinator
Florida Inclusion Network
This is the first time I’ve seen a film on people with disabilities that made me feel happy rather than sad or uncomfortable.
~ Courtney, High School Student
My wife Felicia and I have 2 daughters, both diagnosed with Cerebral
Palsy. Emma is 4-years-old and Alli is 16-months-old. We watched your
family’s incredibly touching, and for us very relevant, story last
night. We are in the process of transitioning Emma from pre-school into
kindergarten and are struggling with the issues you raise in the movie.
We are battling not only other people’s low expectations but our own
fears, hopes and expectations about what is best for our little girl.
The movie provided some very personal reminders that our daughters are
foremost just little girls who want to play and laugh and smile and be
around other kids.
~ Greg Wells
San Diego, California
“Including Samuel” is inspirational. I am a pediatric PT with over 25
years experience, many of which were spent working with students with
multiple disabilities in substantially separate programs or private day
schools. Currently, I teach PT students in an entry-level clinical
doctorate program. I use “Including Samuel” in my pediatric physical
therapy class to help my PT students understand what inclusion is all
~ Ann C. Golub-Victor, PT, MPH, DPT
This is an excellent video!! I have recommended the video to several
colleagues. I usually tell them that this is the modern day version of
“Educating Peter.” I show the video during my intro to special
education course. The people in the class are all future teachers.
~Michael A. Couvillon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Programs in Special Education, Drake University
The movie helped me to see a continuum of how people’s mindsets about
people with disabilities can broaden. We can move from a “fear of the
unknown” towards a benevolent “let’s be nice” approach and then to
seeing it as a social justice/civil rights issue. But I believe now
that the most elemental mindset (and key for achieving societal change)
is to discover our own self-interest — that we ought to promote
inclusion for the benefit of all the students and all the community.
~John Hamilton, Parent of a Non-Disabled Child
After viewing this film, I could think of many situations that I have
dealt with in my 30 years of law enforcement where I had to figure out
what to do on my own when dealing with people with special needs. With
this film as a training tool, I can train my officers so that they will
be better prepared to do their jobs and they won't have to go through
what I went through as a new officer.
~ Chief Dave Peck
I am using “Including Samuel” in my course “Introduction to Students
with Exceptionalities.” My students indicated that the film was not
sad; but was powerful and optimistic. We also discussed Keith Jones and
the role of racism in individuals' responses to individuals with
Isaiah was a big topic of discussion in both sections of the class as
they marveled at his genuine love for and concern for his brother. They
also empathized with Isaiah’s sincerity and honesty when describing how
he feels at times left out.
I ask my students to be agents of social change and my dream is that
the film inspires them never to be complacent where issues of rights
for children with disabilities are concerned, whether in education or
public policy or on the playground.
This DVD is so powerful. It is powerfully personal, when you and your
wife and sons are speaking and it is also powerfully intellectual as
the disability rights advocates discuss their views. I plan to take it
home and show it to my 10-year-old twins.
~ Kathleen R. Biddle, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Education, Juanita College
My son Jonah was recently told he could not participate in a group
tennis lesson. Quite frankly, I was getting to the point where I
decided I would just keep us secluded. Your video was very motivating
and helped get me back on track on the importance of making sure he was
included in society. I contacted Legal Rights for help. With their
help, my son is back in the group lessons with an aide of our choosing
on the court with him. He completed a 6-week session over the summer
and did an awesome job!
~Melissa Farmer, Parent - Ohio
I have been looking for a video like this for years that shows the
family’s journey and your film is both charming and enlightening. I am
in particular interested in sibling issues and including Isaiah’s
comments was brave and honest — that despite all you did he still felt,
at times, a little overlooked. We have done two screenings to date for
approximately 100 early intervention practitioners. As a result I think
these practitioners will approach families in a more humanistic, family
We loved the Viewers’ Guide — very helpful. We developed a series of
questions — looking at emotional, social, medical, family dynamics,
community and strengths based aspects of family love. We also just
loved the sections on the other young people — particularly Keith Jones
who has such a wonderful sense of humor.
Samuel has a smile that lights up the screen!
~ Cynthia Newman, MSW, LCSW
Director, Regional Early Intervention
North Brunswick, NJ
I was most impressed by the teacher who confessed that she had suffered
a terrible school year and felt she could not repeat such an
experience. That kind of honesty is exactly what will help resolve some
of the problems with educating special needs students. I wanted the
teachers in the audience to connect with that part of the movie — it is
ok to admit that the system is not working.
~ Margaret Chaisson
Chair, Special Ed Parent Advisory Council
I put on a teacher in-service on inclusion for the staff at our school
district. I wanted our staff to see how inclusion can work in any
setting with any disability. We all agreed that in order to make it
work there is a lot of time and effort that needs to be put in place.
It isn’t easy but it’s what is best for the students.
What I enjoyed the most about the Viewers’ Guide were the opening
discussion questions before we watched the film. It put everyone in the
right mind set to watch the film.
~ Kirk Shimshock
Emotional Support Teacher
Jamestown (PA) Area School District
At the start of this school year I showed your film to all of our
district’s administrators. The impact was very powerful. They saw the
film at the end of a four hour informational meeting. The group was
completely focused and remained engaged for the full hour. At the end
they thanked me for sharing the film with them and the school
principals each asked to borrow the film stating that they wanted to
show it to their entire staff.
Some of the comments were:
-We need to put ourselves in the families shoes.
-We need to support our teachers so that they are equipped to differentiate instruction.
-The value of being in the classroom is much more than academic.
-All children have a right to be included.
-We should show this film to parents and students.
I plan on sharing this film with our entire educational community. Your film is a gift.
~ Edwina Lovett, Director of Pupil Personnel Services
Timberlane (NH) Regional School District
We conduct a three-day workshop for elementary teachers, which is where
we first showed “Including Samuel.” The teachers who watched the film
seemed to respond on so many levels, connecting with the kids, feeling
for the teachers, picking up on the ideas and strategies, and being
inspired by the necessity of making inclusion work! (It didn’t hurt
that the production values were so high) Personally, I think the
honesty of this film is one of its strongest features, and I am
delighted that you did not edit out the teachers’ discussions of their
struggles. Pretending that inclusion can just happen and be successful
without support and training does not help us get to where we want to
~ Karen Coleman
Librarian, Siskin Children’s Institute
I am a parent of 6 children and our 3-year-old has Down Syndrome. I am so glad you made Including Samuel. I am a physical therapist, and in the early 90s I worked in the schools and heard administrators and others complain that this or that kid should be at this segregated school in another city. I always stood up for the parents and kids for inclusion. I never understood why the school wanted to box kids up so badly. I didn't know things had changed so little. This IS a civil rights movement. WE SINCERELY THANK YOU for giving our family more hope for ALL people, with and without disabilities!
~ Christin Lucas
Avon Lake, Ohio
In Slovenia (EU), inclusion is not a strongly supported idea or reality (when asking experts and teachers). We (at our school) would like to support that option and positive change for children with special needs (and other children, too). In fact, there is a split among experts and professionals ourselves - some of us have really good opportunities and are very supportive in making inclusion work, but a great deal of experts are very fond of special school systems and do not see the possibility of making inclusion work also for children that have moderate or severe special needs...Of course, we have to admit that some schools have the resources needed to do that and some do not...It would not be fair to expect the same success and criteria for every school...but maybe we can make it work at least for a small number of schools...it would be a small change, but certainly a positive one.
~ Janja Kosir - Slovenia
I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed Including Samuel! I am in the IU School of Education in Indianapolis, IN, and we watched your documentary as part of our diversity class. I was deeply touched by all the stories and wonderful people it included, and I found myself totally and completely in love with Samuel and his smile! I'm a mother myself of a 15-month-old little boy, and I have huge hopes and dreams for my son just like you do for Samuel. It's incredible to see so much optimism and positive energy in one documentary. I commend you and your wife and Isaiah - you are all such loving people, and it shows! Hopefully, with each person, teacher, student, parent, anyone who sees your film, we can spread the love that your documentary just radiates. Thank you for making this documentary, which taught me so many things, and now I know I will strive to be the very best elementary school teacher I can be. Best wishes to you and your family :) God Bless!
~ Monica Owen - Indianapolis, IN
Dan, Betsy, and Isaiah, you are an example for people in the world! Your personal story turned my views. Your position and faith encouraged me so much! Even if I am a person with a disability (cerebral palsy) and I have been working with disability issues for many years, I have to study every time and be open for new discoveries. In my country we have lots of stereotypes relating to disability and situations much more difficult than in the USA. I am not ill or different; first of all I am a person. People with disabilities have the same rights as other people, but we still are fighting barriers and prejudices. When I saw the video, my eyes opened to many things! It doesn't matter what kind of disability a person has. The main point is who you are for yourself, for your family, friends, and network. I want to show this video everywhere--at the University, NGOs, and with friends--even on TV. This is really marvelous that you see in Samuel great potential and abilities, but not disability!
~ Seinep Dyikanbaeva - Kyrgyzstan
We have used Including Samuel as a great catalyst for inclusion discussions in our district through a program that I facilitate called "Something to Talk About." I've watched it sooo many times; seeing those raw parenting moments, rejoicing in the joys of brotherhood, feeling the pain of the challenges that Samuel faces on a daily basis. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your family and making a difference!
~Mindy Beltramo - Bedford, NH
My name is Megan Oliver and I am part of the SPED 326 class from the University of Kansas that you skyped with today. I really just wanted to send you an email thanking you for taking the time out of your day to talk to us and allow us to ask you a few questions. I learned a lot not only from your video and your interview, but it was really rewarding getting to engage with you, and hear your story. I feel this expierence will be something I will never forget. Not only has this class, but your video, helped confirm that I want to get my masters in special education, but hopefully will work as a special ed teacher as well. Thank you again! I wish you and your family only the best.
~Megan Oliver, University of Kansas
I am a teacher at a 2-year community college in Ohio. I use your video every time I teach my Exceptional Children class. My students are entranced every time. I watch their faces. They are quiet, involved in your message - no texting under the table - and it so clearly illustrates the messages I am teaching them. Thank you for sharing your life with Samuel.
~Sandy Owen, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
I wanted to take the time to thank you for Skyping with our class. Growing up, I was diagnosed with several learning disabilities myself. I understand what your son and your family is going through. I am so happy that you're having such a great experience with your son's education. This is the exact reason why I want to become a special education teacher--so I can help students have the same great experience as me and your son. Again, thank you for your wonderful story and time.