By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Teachers, parents and advocates for improved special education attended a conference Wednesday to learn about how including special needs students in general education classes can help everyone involved.

It’s all about inclusion, not isolation. Those days are gone, says Dr. Julie Causton, a special education professor at Syracuse who visited Montgomery County to speak at the conference:

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“What I find to be true, whether I’m teaching college or kindergarten — it doesn’t matter to me — the presence of individuals with disabilities make my classroom better.”

Because, she says, every student has talents and limitations unique to them:

“And we end up planning more creative, more interesting, more engaging lessons because we’re thinking about those students that may struggle.”

The conference was organized by Michelle Honig, the mother of a boy with down syndrome.

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“As a parent, it’s inspiring,” she says. “It gives me hope for what my son’s future can be.”