A parent at my school wrote this piece in hopes that all teachers would understand her perspective. Her son is diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder among other diagnoses that affect his ability to function in the classroom. He has been at our school for three years and as a staff, we have moved forward but every now and then, disbelief and an attitude of segregation rears its ugly head. Both mom and I realize that we are trailblazers for the next students who come to our school community. Sometimes, though, it makes us weary. . .
I am a parent of two children with exceptional needs. Our son lives in [your community] and your school is his school. Quite often I have to remind myself when frustrated that our Universities are robbing our teachers by not instructing Universal design, remind myself to not point fingers and judge those who are doing all they can to educate my child. I cannot get mad for what you do not know.
Back in the good old days there was a school for children like our child and then sadly only a community school for children like our daughter who is close to being at genius I.Q.
Today, life is about choices. Today, life is about blending and acceptance. Our other child with her very high I.Q. could be in a gifted program but we chose a bilingual program and in that program she helps many of her classmates which teaches her empathy, kindness, patience and esteem and confidence. More importantly she wishes to be a teacher as she is inspired by how many she is helping.
I see that often when I come to the school. So many who are so interested to inspiring at whatever level.
Often you don’t think I know how you feel about special needs, our about how you feel about my child in your school. Just like you hurt when you hear parent gossiping, we parents feel the same. You may not say anything in the hallway but your discussion around the lunch table is heard. Your eyes dropping or lack of social engagement to me or to my child, screams volumes to your non-acceptance of my child.
My child may have challenges but one of the gifts is high intuition. Your negative thoughts or beliefs are being transferred onto my child, only they don’t know you see that they should be somewhere else; they assume you simply don’t like them. Is that really what elementary school should be transferring onto any child?
Children in elementary are only at the beginning of their destiny. Your input will echo throughout their lives always; your input creates not only their destiny but their destination. What you believe you create.
She is right - what you believe, you create. When you believe students with special needs should only be somewhere else, you create a community that does not accept differences. When you believe all children can learn and will learn in your classroom, you create a culture of acceptance and inclusion. As we grow older, I hope this next generation is accepting of differences, because before long, you and I will be different - we will be old and unable to care for ourselves. What a different kind of world we would live in if we were still accepted as important members of society. Just a thought. . .