Ending The R-Word
Let’s face it. Most typical kids think Special Ed kids are weird. I was once a kid, too, so I know how it is. I used to toss around The R-Word on the playground and locker room, just like everybody else.
Then I grew up and had a kid with autism. Meanwhile, the world has generally maintained the same dismissive attitude.
However, our family is blessed to live in a progressive area and send him to a school that takes Inclusion very, very seriously. In addition to being intentional and strategic about integrating “typical” General Ed students with Special Ed students via mainstreaming, our school implements an annual, district-wide program called “Ability Awareness Week.”
Appreciating diversity starts as early as Kindergarten, as malleable young minds and attitudes are shaped to respect and embrace their Special Needs peers.
Does Inclusion work? Is it worth the effort? Will kids really be kind towards others who are different, without forced coercion from adults? Sure, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that Inclusion works when kids are young. But how about as they become teens, when “kEwElNeSs” and fitting in reign supreme?
The proof is in the pudding. My son is now in fifth grade. Just the other night, I got the message below from my son’s Special Ed Teacher (reprinted with permission.)
The Best Email Thread Ever
On Mar 12, 2013, at 5:34 PM, “Teacher” wrote:
I FORGOT TO TELL YOU!
Today Jeremy’s class was running the 100 yard dash for their fitness test in PE and when it was Jeremy’s turn the whole class without any adult guidance lined up to cheer him on and help guide him to the finish line 🙂
It was a really great moment to witness his whole class work together to come up with a way so that Jeremy could participate with them.
Happy Moments brought to you by Room ## 🙂
On Mar 12, 2013, at 5:36 PM, “Diane” wrote:
This is his mainstream class?? Yur telling me the MS kids cheered him on w/o prompting from an adult?? Like on their own? u made me cryyyyyy!!!!
Sent from my iPhone
On Mar 12, 2013, at 5:42 PM, “Teacher” wrote:
On their own his mainstream class did this, aren’t they the best ever! I’m giving his entire mainstream class** Rock Star status. I am going to see if they can get some kind of award from the principal in front of the school. This way other classes/students will look and see what they can do to be more apart of/inclusive to all of the SPED students lives at our school.
🙂 happy happy joy joy!!
**NOTE: We found later the entire 5th grade (not just Jeremy’s class) rallied together for him. His class began it, then the other classes caught on and joined. Even more amazing!!!
On Mar 12, 2013, at 5:48 PM, “Diane” wrote:
Omg I’m crying in public rt now…. I LOVE OUR INCLUSIVE SCHOOL!!
Thanks so much for letting me know!!
Sent from my iPhone
My Kid Makes Your Kids Better
Now, should all this come as a surprise?
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
~ 1 Corinthians 12:22-26
Evidently, the Creator of the Universe also came up with Inclusion — and this, more than several thousand years ago. He also:
“…Chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:27-28
So, yeah. I’m thinkin’ it should work. It sure looks like it does. How about that?
Who You Callin’ “Retarded?”
Why does the world call our kids, “Special Needs”? Because our world needs them, especially. In a culture that idolizes excellence, achievement and self-glory, counter-cultural kids like mine inspire selflessness, compassion and sacrifice. Kids like mine make other kids better. True heroes enable more heroes. I pray the next generation will be much more compassionate and magnanimous than mine, because of “Special” kids like Jeremy, Jason and Mitchell.
- How have you seen Inclusion working? Please share and reassure me that the world is changing…
- What benefits have you experienced by “having equal concern” or suffering/rejoicing with a Special Needs child or family?
- How would coach a typical child who asks about a special needs peer, “Why is he like that?” What would you say? What might be a good “script”?