Monday, October 26, 2009

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 His mood swings put him from a happy and excited child to a quiet withdrawn lonely boy.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.


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