My sister-in-law, Debbie, went through something recently that no parent of any kid should go through. She faced discrimination because one of her kids has special needs.
Aaron is 12 years old. He is a great kid who happens to have autism. With school starting on Monday, Debbie wanted to enroll Aaron in before and after care at the middle school he will be attending. Aaron will be in the special needs program at the school and my sister-in-law called to confirm that there would be before and after care available for Aaron.
Three days later , at orientation , Debbie was informed that a private company had been hired to provide this service but not for the special needs students. Debbie recently started a new job which she could risk losing because of this. She tried talking to the principal who was no help whatsoever.
Debbie then took it upon herself to call the superintendent of schools. After being transferred several times she ended up speaking to the head of aftercare for all of Broward County schools. The head of aftercare for Broward schools actually listened to what Debbie had to say and promised to help her out. A few phone calls later Debbie was informed that there would be before and aftercare available for Aaron starting on Monday, the first day of school.
This is my question: Why shouldn’t these
services and others be available to students with special needs as well as typical students? Aren’t they all students in the same school system? Parents of students with special needs should not have to risk the very jobs they need in order to be able to provide the therapies their children need just because some people in the school system are either ignorant or prejudiced against those with special needs.
Parents of children with special needs only want what every parent wants for their children, a good education and a chance for them to reach their full potential.
I applaud my sister-in-law for doing what she had to do in order for Aaron to have the education he deserves. Kudos Debbie!!!
I am so glad that Debbie had the strength and courage to advocate for her son so successfully. I think we are still so encumbered by our fear of difference that we continue to stigmatize children with what we call disabilities or differences. In fact, all of us our different (unique) and alike (human). As an educator, when I have a special needs child in a class I am privy (or should be) to the diagnosis and interventions targeted for the child. It is my job to figure out how to make that work in my classroom – by law (why did we have to do that? why could we not figure out that all kids should be treated well without the need for laws?!). Training for how to make accommodations and reach all my students, though, I had to find on my own — often through trial and error or through discussion with the “specialists.” Far too often, however, I have seen children disregarded, banned or in some way relegated to second tier because a parent was not vocal enough. I applaud those parents who understand that challenge and meet it — but I don’t think it should be that way. And the folks in after care should get a lot more training than just CPR and first aid … but if the schools are not providing needed training for teachers, they likely won’t provide it for those working in after/before care. When we can all embrace our unique talents, gifts and challenges, it will make it easier and more efficient in the educational world (if not other parts of our society).
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I'm glad Debbie was able to resolve it! Unfortunately I understand the other side of it too. I work in an after school program at an elementary school, we aren't given any training on children with special needs. I'm not saying these wonderful children should be excluded from the programs though! Our program enroll all levels of children with special needs, unfortunately we…the staff…aren't given the skills to appropriately work with these children. Another issue is the fact that we aren't informed that certain children have special needs…there is a section on our enrollment paperwork where allergies and special needs or considerations are supposed to be listed.