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Research on Researchers: Sheenagh interviews Judith Snow

March 31, 2013

Minnesota Bio 091)    Judith, can you tell me about your BMX model of inclusion? Can you tell me what the letters stand for and explain what each one means?

The BMX Model of Inclusion proposes that three distinct states of Inclusion co-exist.

–  State B (Basic):  Groups allow the presence of people with diverse characteristics. State B’s principal quality is that the includers share presence with diversity, but no other changes are anticipated or offered.  The includers like their community as is, expect no major shifts, and the included are expected to adapt to the ways and means of the includers and to get along as best they can. Typically the included express gratitude for the opportunity and work hard to not cause difficulties.

–  State M (Mechanical):  Includers recognize that the excluded are struggling to get along, and are willing to make “accommodations”.  Those seeking greater inclusion move beyond simply being grateful for the opportunity to coexist and begin to focus on their rights and to advocate for support.  Resources are directed to programs; policies are implemented. The dominant feelings are pity, concern, worry and anger.

–  State X (Crossover):  Both includers and the included recognize that another world is possible, one that benefits from the gifts and contributions available in the cultures, characteristics, and experiences of members of both the including and included.  The perception fades that there are two sides and the distinct boundary fades.


State B (Basic) A teenager with autism and no speech is kept at the back of a regular classroom, with no attention is paid to whether he is building friendships. He is permitted to develop his own learning strategies and it is noticed that his reading level surpasses his more typical classmates.
State M (Mechanical) All teenagers with “disability” labels are given opportunities to be in a homeroom for 1st period.  The school has a resource room for tutoring, an “inclusive” lunchroom, and Special Olympics classes to replace regular gym.
State X (Crossover) Ninth grade students are invited to form a support circle with a teen who loves music, and who also has autism and no speech.  Twenty-three students meet regularly and enthusiastically for the next four years. The teen who focuses the circle enjoys participating in the school band, gym and many more classes than anyone originally expected. The other teens express their appreciation at having an alternative to being “Nerds”, “Preps” or simply left out. The school administration notes a dramatic decrease school wide in fights and vandalism.

2) You often talk about giftedness. How can self advocates get started in getting people in their circles to move away from disability thinking and towards gifted thinking?

The title “self advocate” belongs to the “M” category of the BMX model. In the “M” state there is no room for seeing an unusual characteristic or circumstances as a “gift” or opportunity. The characteristic or circumstance must be categorized and labelled, then addressed through generalized programs, polices or other impersonal means.

In other words, the person who is seeking to be seen as a full participant and contributor must themselves step out of thinking in categories, such as “self advocate”, and instead seek partnership with others, seeing themselves as a whole person interacting with other whole people. The aim is to work together bringing value to each other.

3) You are an artist and there are some beautiful examples of your paintings on your website – How long have you been involved in the art community and has your art had any influence on your work on inclusion and giftedness?

I have been painting with the support of art facilitators since early 2004. In 2010 the Royal Ontario Museum invited me to put on an eight month exhibit called “Who’s Drawing the Lines”. The exhibit of 23 paintings and other artefacts expressed how inclusion is developed and sustained through dance-like partnerships, such as in the work done together by artist and art facilitator.

After developing the exhibit, one of the ROM staff wrote:

“For museums, someone like Judith Snow presents a greater challenge than may seem apparent at first glance. The presence of her work signifies (or demands) a radical change in attitude on the part of museums. It means moving away from the role of transmitting a dominant, mainstream ideology toward a broader view that accepts and encompasses a wide diversity of opinion, condition, and worldview, and gives voice to people and groups that have hitherto been silent in these halls. The ROM realizes that this process will not be easy, but knows that it must pursue it nevertheless. A museum’s life is also a journey….”
4) Can you tell me about someone who has been a role model for you in your research on giftedness and inclusion?

Helen Keller – because she fully participated and made an impact on the entire culture of her time.

Jean Vanier – because he has created ways for thousands to build new life through relationship.

My father – Edwin Snow – because he taught and lived that full participation is the road to a good personal life and to bringing greater good to the world.
5) Is there any other research you are working on right now which you would like to share with us?

A group of us based in Toronto and Phoenix are developing a multi-player, role playing video game with the idea of building teams that find the gifts of each other and of the characters in the game. The intention of the game is to have fun while creating greater inclusion of game characters with unusual characteristics. At the same time the team of players will gain practise being inclusive of each other.

Judith regularly tours and talks about her work.  To contact her, or learn more about her work, see below:

“The next step is the first step.” – Judith Snow, March 2013

Judith Snow, MA

Phone: 647-710-4501
Skype: avalanche0809

Third Cycle

Stories Blog – Ahh, but that’s another story…

Inclusion Homepage:

Apt. 812
20 Garnett Janes Rd.
Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada
M8V 3Z1

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