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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, October 28, 2007

 

The More Important Legal Battle

In the New York Times yesterday: Disabled Pupils, Private Schools, Public Money, David and Kim LaPierre enrolled their son Jack into private school for children without disabilities in addition to their in home therapy. They feared that Jack would backslide in a public classroom with disabled children and are suing the schools to recover their expenses.

"It makes no sense to us as parents that we would have to put our son in a place that we knew wasn't right for him, just so we could qualify for the school's services or funding to help us....

Cases like these have increasingly become a flash point in special education, pitting parents against school systems that say they cannot afford to pay to privately educate disabled children whose parents unilaterally reject their proposed placements."


While the courts seem to take a stance that people will abuse the receipt of reimbursements, "others say that if public schools did a better job educating students, private school placements would be unnecessary."


In the article, the LaPierre's did not digress into therapy treatments or talk about their son as "doomed without..." What they have done is positioned their argument, in my opinion to something that we all, as parents of disabled children, can relate to: our children are worthy of access and support. They deserve a good education in a setting where they can learn -- not with a classroom packed with thirty children or in a setting that teaches them only self-help skills. More often is the case that our children have strengths in one or more areas, and need support in other aspects of their development. What I would like to see extend the argument is that other children will benefit by getting to know and learn with our disabled children.

I would support a lobby in Canada for public educators as well as private, to take a long hard look at how we educate disabled children whilst VALUING them -- preparing them to contribute to society because we know they they will, and supporting them into adulthood so that those who cannot be completely independent, can. The levels of support will certainly vary, and we have to work for everyone's benefit. While we are doing it, we have a great deal to learn from the disabled students who have already traversed, nay survived "the system."

I was actually surprised to read something in the paper that effects all parents, that we can all universally relate to. I hope it puts pressure on public educators to change "the system," and society in general to shift perceptions about the nature and value of disabled people.

1 Comments:

Anonymous -Brian- said...

This reminds me of my attempt to upgrade my education at a community college.

The first year was not so bad, as each student was encouraged to show his independent skills, but as the second year started, and we were told to form "teams" (to show future employers we had "team spirit") the system started to fail, as I could not get through to college staff that working in such "teams" was beyond me--it just created a ton of confusion as to who was doing what, and how, and when...

As one instructor said, "Who are you to try to weasel your way out of one of the most important parts of this training!"

That type of response only created more depression and more resentment amongst other peers, who began to spread false allegations that eventually lead to my suspension from college.

Although the suspension was lifted after two years, that was too late, and (as a few others have said) society was the loser, as it did not take advantage of the potential in a person, but showed raw fear towards that person for behaving "differently" than "normal".

When will the staff and peers at any educational institution be willing to VALUE another student for what he or she is worth, without trying to "zone in" on their negative fears of that student behaving differently than others?

9:32 AM  

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