Jan Kruger has four children with unique personalities, needs and desires.
That her youngest son, Jack, has a disability does not mean he should have less access to education, social and employment opportunities than his siblings.
Mrs Kruger said it has taken a concerted effort from her and her husband Paul to ensure Jack is given every opportunity at school and in the community, rather than being limited by a label of having special needs or a disability.
"We found ourselves resisting repeated suggestions of a segregated pathway for Jack's education from early on, and we have had to continue to hold strong on our position that full inclusion is beneficial for Jack and his peers."
Jack attends a mainstream school with the curriculum adjusted to suit his specific needs "as should be the case with any student", said Mrs Kruger.
The couple now devote themselves to a family-led organisation, Imagine More, where they support about 200 families with children with a variety of special needs – including autism – to seek out socially valued roles in the community.
Last year Mrs Kruger was nominated in the ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards for her work.
She welcomed the release of the Shaddock review on Wednesday, saying it showed the value of a "whole-of-system" approach.
Mrs Kruger believed ACT schools too often sought to label children and fit them into segregated units without considering how to fully immerse them in their local school community.
The now-infamous autism cage was a most disturbing and visible aspect of that segregation but she said many families found themselves with little support to seek out "a typical life path" once their child was labelled as having a disability.
"We need to understand that most children are not behaving in a challenging way 100 per cent of the time, therefore let's harness and focus on when and what is working well, rather than just discussing how to restrain safely or segregate a child."
While she believed the Shaddock review would kick-start a fresh look at exclusionary practices throughout the school system, she would have liked to have seen greater attention on "strengthening the relationships and communication between schools and families where the family is seen as an important and equal partner in all decisions".
"Whilst fostering relationships is noted throughout the report, the recommendations don't reflect the importance of fostering opportunities based on shared interests that will increase students' sense of belonging and relationships; instead there seems to be a focus on developing more policy and procedures," she said.
Australian Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler said the findings of the expert panel "has the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of many young territorians [but] for the report's potential to be realised, the ACT government needs to support the recommendations with the resources and budget required to make a real difference on the ground."
The union specifically welcomed a recommendation to professionalise learning support assistants through Certificate 4 qualifications. "If teachers are to meet the expectations raised by this report, they must have fully qualified education support staff in the classroom," Mr Fowler said.
Opposition education spokesman Steve Doszpot said the report illustrated just how difficult a job the city's teachers faced.
"According to the report, nearly 70 per cent of teachers surveyed said that they had not received support. Sixty-nine per cent said they had not received support from the Network Student Engagement Teams and 68 per cent said they had not received support from the Target Support Team. Forty-eight percent said they didn't feel they had adequate training," Mr Doszpot said.
"Furthermore, 20 per cent reported extreme violence to teachers while 52 per cent reported verbal abuse towards teachers. It's obvious teachers are facing an increasingly difficult task in the classroom."