In the spirit of increasing awareness I plan to share special needs related stories currently in the news…
There are several things that troubled me after reading “It was heartbreaking to see my child separated and wearing a trash bag” in The Washington Post.
Imagine it’s the second day of school. You stop by your 5 year old child’s classroom to find him isolated from the others and sporting a garbage bag poncho because his epilepsy causes him to drool.
Not isolated because he was sick and not wearing a plastic bag fashioned into a smock for a super fun messy art project.
Imagine talking to the teacher, expressing concern about the situation, explaining that there’s extra clothes and bibs in your child’s bag, and offering to send in disposable gloves.
Imagine your son can’t speak so you act as his voice, assume you’ve been heard only to show up the next day to find your son again alone dressed in a garbage bag.
Blood boiling yet? Hold on. The best part is still coming.
You approach the administration, but they fail to understand your concern. They ask you if the child’s appearance bothers you. You say your concern is the safety of your child, not his appearance.
I don’t know about you, but everything about this picture bothers me: an isolated child, disregarding a proactive mother’s reasonable request, ignoring her concerns.
The real kicker is the school official who “… informed her that nowhere in the school’s guidelines is it written that a teacher cannot put a trash bag on a student.”
And that is when I momentarily lost my mind.
Why would anyone think this was an appropriate statement? What purpose did it serve to deliver such a message? I can write off a lot of things because of poor communication skills, but this constitutes a complete lack of common sense. So I don’t blame this mom for going to the media, and accepting a new placement from the district because her son deserves to be educated and cared for by people who demonstrate the very best judgement given his disabilities and medical needs.
But it does little to reassure me that we’re any closer to fostering acceptance, or modeling inclusion.
What do you think?