A Fight for Our Needs | Teen Ink

A Fight for Our Needs

March 2, 2014
By Maryk PLATINUM, Waterford, Michigan
Maryk PLATINUM, Waterford, Michigan
22 articles 1 photo 66 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The ability to learn is greater than the ability to teach." - Arnold Jacobs
"He who slays monsters will become a monster himself"-Nietzsche
"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better its not"-Dr.Suess
“They are poor, especially for the player, I think it is very difficult to have auditions and find a suitable way to judge, because we have a great many talented players to choose from. This means a lot of heartbreak for the people who are very capable.”-Arnold Jacobs, Teacher and Tuba Player

To any regular child, the first day of School or Kindergarten is a stepping-stone to the development of becoming a successful individual. You ride on the bus is a good chance to make friends, meeting your teacher is like getting to know a new people and perspectives, recess is like exploring a forest, and circle time makes you feel as if your part of team that has a greater impact on not just you, but everyone. To a regular-ed child this rite of passage has a powerful effect and significant impact on your social world, that you are part of something greater, and gain a supported and mentoring relationship. This exploratory rite of passage may seem wonderful and amazing for a regular-ed child, but for special needs this traditional rite of passage can turn a ride on the bus into a collision of your social inabilities. The teacher seems inexperienced and nervous in his or her presence around you with no bridge to build for you. Recess is like a schoolyard version of the Hunger Games with no weapons to defend yourself, and circle time feels like a Jail where you feel constantly degraded; forced to sit in a small space they call Time Out while the other students comply and do what they are told. In the end, the lesson learned by special needs students is that if you comply and act like the normal people will accept you and not punish you or belittle you. For these children going to school is like going into a battlefield with no strategy and no weapons; and every authority figure in the school seems as if they are the dictator with an army of your peers who want you be like all the rest of the kids, the normal ones.

The first question in their mind is, “Who will be on my side, and will they accept me for who I ‘am?”. when this question is presented to any school authority many of them turn a blind eye or try to make up a plan out of thin air by making a glorified lunch lady with no experience into a parapro (like the fairy godmother in Cinderella). Even worse is the Little Genus approach in which a teacher or special education personnel (even if they do not have a degree) says to a parent, teacher, or school administrator, “Little Harry doesn’t need help in that class, he is a Genus!” even if the child has a problem in the classroom. The Little Genus approach is actually a type of social seclusion and justification based on the Rain Man / Amadeus stereotype that all people with special needs are either a genus or a savant like Mozart or Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, which is the modern and comedic equivalent to Rain Man. It is not only a problem for parents but also a difficulty for these children too. “Mrs.Mulcher says I ‘am a genus!” they may say but later in life, it becomes detrimental and has lifelong consequences. Even the word itself genus really implies that they do not need any work or push the subject aside because the teacher does not know how to assist, and negotiate with the student and also leaves the student themselves helpless too. I was called a genus by my grandparents because I knew a lot about music and history, but had problems in science and math. They were the fuel of a conflict I had constantly with my family and at school until I realized that even though I had Asbergers and knew many things, I was not a genus which is why I disapprove of anyone with special-needs or gifted talents being called a genus even though they have flaws as well as abilities. Therefore, words are not just stick and stones that bruise and scratch; they are also a deadly venom that settles in your mind and body, or an anvil that hits you on the head like on Anamaniacs; but what is the limit for these toxins or anvils that effect and land on special-ed students every single day? Weather it may be the kids on the playground that stuck your head in a snow bank, or the Teacher that makes fun of you by singing the Rolling Stones You Can’t Always Get What You Want and encouraging the other students to follow suit. What would you do to change the environment in the school, for some parents think the answer is simple, you go to the IEP meeting…but how do you prepare yourself for this battle against a group of people that allow this to go on and if so, why?

According to Sociology, a teacher not only teaches but also creates an environment for his or her students to learn and socialize with people with different ideas and perspectives. This sociological principle not only applies to students and their teachers; but also applies to parents and their children too. However, if parents cannot get away with creating a hostile environment for a child, why do some teachers get away with being hostile and rude towards special needs children by creating an exclusive environment? It’s because when schools hire teachers, they do it based on how many degrees the teacher has and not by the attitude, character, and the atmosphere that they create so that everyone can learn at their own pace and not have to feel like they are behind or even worse a failure. Sometimes the sociological term groupthink applies to these issues as well. If the students all agree, that Tim is a baby because he wants the teacher to let him use the calculator even though the teacher said no calculator, the teacher ends the conflict quickly by saying, “All right you can help him, but do not give him a calculator and show him how to do it”. However even though the teacher thinks he or she ended the conflict, the students will still have the mentality of thinking Tim is not like them because he uses a calculator which, in their opinion is not fair. Even worse, one kid might kid might say, “Here’s a calculator Tim” then once Tim has his calculator the kid snatches it and says very rudely, “Oh, I forgot, you’re not supposed to have a calculator, sorry Tim!” Then at the end of the day, Tim feels that he cannot trust his teacher and begins a cycle of self-loathing and intense degradation, “I hate math” “Everyone hates me” and “No one wants to help me” are immediately what comes to his mind. Therefore, the teacher did not end the conflict but made it worse and also created ammunition for students to bully Tim. Meanwhile when Tim’s mother comes to the admiastrator saying, “Mr.Bossman is creating a hostile environment for my son, why haven’t you done anything?”Because she or he wants a good reputation for themselves and the school she does not blame Mr.Bossman, but blames Tim’s mother by saying, “Well, you should of known about this, because Mr.Bossman thinks it’s unfair for him and not everyone else to have a calculator so that’s why.”.

Blaming the victim, this is a common behavior for people who are bullies, but it is also common for people who do not want to have responsibility for a certain situation, and can also be a form of discrimination against anyone no matter who they are or what disability they fall under in the DSMB. Even though the schools think they are trying to be fair to everyone, they are actually breaking laws in many ways they can and even try to cover it up by hiring a Randomella to become an aid, guide, or parapro who has no knowledge of special-needs education, and think its ok. One day, Tim will later gain a sense of aggression and anger towards Mr.Bossman because he feels robbed of stability and feels that the only way to deal with the problem is aggression and anger, since Mr.Bossman took away a tool Tim needed to gain knowledge and a sense of confidence in learning. Tim’s mother knows that Tim needs comfort and compassion in order to feel confident and successful in life there for she is always with him, however, what if a child like Tim were isolated and separated from the world. Then it would cause a build of tension and even violence; an example of this extreme case would be like the life of the Sandy Hook shooter, who was isolated by only him and his first person shooter games and had no access to the outside world and he too had a mental disorder, Autism. One reason why some teachers and even some parents want to isolate children with special-needs is because not only mental-intuitions did take these children way from their parents in the fifties, but also because of the fear, that if they are out in the world they will be jugged and ridiculed and also not able to get a job. This is why the Rankin/Bass version of Rudolph is so sentimental to so many children with special needs and is still a classic to this day since 1964 when America was in the heat of the debate of civil-rights not just for different races, but for disabilities too. The special teaches us that even though there is judgment and ridicule in the world. There are people like Herby and Yukon to be our friends and guides, and like King Mooraiser says in the special, “A living creature cannot hide their unconformity”, and that all of us hope that one-day people will see an unconformity as strength to help them and others. Now that people are becoming aware of Autism and other mental disorders after the fate at Sandy Hook, they know now that even misfits need a place in our society too and now is the time to fight for the things they need most. We need a fight to start something larger that can finally concur all the pain and injustices that these children face weather we risk it or not.

The author's comments:
“War is upon you weather you risk it or not”-
Aragorn from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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This article has 1 comment.

topjimmy said...
on Jul. 25 2014 at 9:34 pm
Special needs can mean a lot of different things. I have a daughter that has as we call "special needs" I have found that by looking at things the way she does I have benefited from another viewpoint. This has expanded my thinking expanded my compassion and understanding of people. I have become much less judgemental. In fact after spending considerable time with her...I feel like I have the special needs!