Skip to main content

My Kid Won’t Learn from Your Kid.

Many times during our life, if we are truly challenging our own personal growth - we will come face-to-face with our own prejudices. I have had several in my 39 years – one of the first was when I moved to the south when I was 17. I had some fairly strong stereotypes about Southerners – and very quickly at the university I attended, those stereotypes were laid to rest.

In my more recent history, I was struck by my prejudices about children with special needs. When first researching classroom environments for Ben, I definitely had the notion that he would only benefit from being in an inclusion class. There are many reasons parents want their child in inclusion – it is more “normal”, curriculum is rigorous and if your child is going to learn from their peers, you want those peers to be typical.

When it was all said and done, Ben’s best placement was in a self-contained classroom, a class with a teacher trained in special education with two assistants and 9 children, all with differing special needs.

Looking back now, I ask myself, “How could I have been so narrow-minded?” By discounting what children with special needs could teach my son, I am at the same time taking away Ben’s gifts. I know our Ben can offer friendship, love, courage, strength, determination, warmth, kindness, laughter and patience to his classmates.

It is a family’s decision to place their child in the best school setting – different ones work for all types of individuals. My only question for anyone facing this type of decision is, “What negative thoughts, fears or stereotypes do you have that could be getting in the way of making the best decision possible for your child?” If you have, at the very least, examined yourself, you are headed in the right direction.


  1. Wow...I can relate so well to what you are talking about. My son is ADHD bipolar. His mood swings put him from a happy and excited child to a quiet withdrawn lonely boy. I struggled with the decision to put him in a special class when he was young. I figured that he would "normalize" in a regular classroom setting. Little did I realize how overrated "normal" is. My son flourished in 2 years of special education classes, thanks to a most awesome teacher. I'll just call him Jack...He totally understood my son and what he needed when he needed it. With this awesome teachers help in two years, my son had learned the social skills he needed to function in a normal school setting. I'm not saying it's been easy street since then, but he surely does have a much better understanding of what he can accomplish and he also understands that there are people willing to help if only he asks(thank you IEP). I'm not afraid for my son at school anymore, and more important, he isn't afraid either. He will graduate one semester late, but he WILL graduate. That is a dream come true for me. Thanks for the great post :)

  2. Thanks Bendigo! I really appreciate you reading and commenting. It is always good to know I've hit the mark with someone. You are an awesome Dad to be so involved with your son and school. It has probably made a huge difference.


Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. If you wish to contact me directly, please let me know and I will email you.

Popular posts from this blog

Impromptu Pet Therapy

  Ben met Doodle today. One of the staff at his day program brought him in. Ben loves dogs and these photos made my day. 

Parenting an Adult Child with Disabilities: Talking About the Future

Ben in the middle with Dad (left), Carla Payne with Aging Care Matters and Mom This is the first of several posts about parenting an adult child with a disability. Ben will be 19 this summer; I am learning along the way. As always, I hope to pass on resources and wisdom. Discuss the future.  If your adult child is able to participate in planning for their future, ask them how they envision it. Let them draw a picture. Ask them to tell you a story. Maybe they can sign a few words that mean a lot to them. Find a way to get them involved. How do they see themselves living? By themselves, in a group home, with another family or with a sibling? Where do they want to live? In another city, in an apartment, in a house? How far away do they want to live from family? What level of independence can they handle? Do they want someone to check in on them? Do they want to find a job? Do they need a job coach or supportive employment? Who will help them with their finances? Is there someone they tru

Catching up with Ben

  I wish I had more time to write on eSpeciallyBen . Ben teaches us lessons on a regular basis: Smile often, give hugs, sit down and savor the moment, grab someone's hand to let them know you care and laugh with abandon–even if it annoys your brother. Ben will be 18 this summer. He attends high school in-person and enjoys seeing his classmates and teachers each day. In the photo above, it's 6 a.m. and he can't wait to get on the bus. As for most people, the pandemic has been tough. Ben's in-person activities, camps and programs were canceled. He's happy to see grandma when we met on a Charlotte greenway or park. Ben seeks out social interactions and being quarantined away from friends and family was even more difficult because he didn't understand why. Ben's teacher sends me photos of him throughout the week. They just finished a rousing game of catch here.  Thank you for following eSpeciallyBen. If you want to see what I'm working on now, find me here .