Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What's so special about Special Ed?

“We shouldn’t be under the Special Ed department!”

Yes, those words stung…… actually, they still do months later.  If you think a kid said this, you would be wrong, it was a parent.  A “smart” parent….. a GATE parent.  In our district the Gifted And Talented Education program is under the Special Ed department.

In their eyes……
GATE = different but MORE
Special Ed = different but LESS

I tried to explain to them that the goal in Special Education / GATE really should be giving kids access to what they need to succeed…. Special programs to stimulate their learning, Special unique opportunities outside the school setting to focus on education , Special modifications to ensure that their minds are broadened intellectually.  Hence…….. Special Ed

When I discussed this with them, you would have thought that they were afraid that their special snowflake would “catch” something from their being “lumped in with the others”……. Yes, that’s how he phrased it……. “the others”.

Those words hit straight to the heart……

He and so many other parents think that very same way….. Special Ed is something said in whispers, kept in secret, not discussed.  But show me a GATE parent that doesn’t scream out that their kid “made it”!

And the kicker…….. he knows my child…… he’s known him for a few years.  He has said wonderful things about my kid and yet he says this to me during a meeting.  My eyes stung holding back the tears….. luckily his wife stopped him before he said anymore….. but what more could he have said that his tone and attitude hadn’t told me already.

I defiantly told him that …Special Ed is not less… uniquely, my child is part of both worlds… GATE and Autism…….. and that truly made him Special!

AND tell me this…….
Why do we have to struggle for accommodations and services?
Why do we have to go to meeting after meeting, fighting for our child, feeling horrible each time we come out?
Why is it just commonplace to have them actually follow the IEP……. So much so that we have tons of meme’s circling the internet with our battle cry?

It just SHOULDN’T be that way……..not at all.    But it is, sadly, so many parents I know go through this struggle year after year to “prove” to the district that our children are worth it….. that they should get the opportunity to learn just like “other” kids!

But, no matter what I said, it hurt.  It hurt for my kid.  It hurt for all of my friends and their kiddos that are looked on as different, but less.  It hurt as a part of society that sees this as “their truth”.  It hurt to know that in this day and age that if this were about gender or race, that people would be outraged, their hands in the air fighting…… but who’s fighting for our kids’ rights? For people to see them as whole, wonderful loving human beings that need acceptance. 

So when will “Special” stop being a bad word?  Let us come out of the shadows and be treated just like any “other” parents.

When will people realize that ALL kids are special?