“Sometimes Inclusion Takes a Backseat and That’s Not Awful”
One thing I like a whole lot about A’s special ed school is that the whole environment is a place for the kids to shine. I know the arguments in favor of inclusion and mostly agree with them, but after so many years of watching A and his classmates get sidelined and kept in their classroom and not perform in concerts, and not be in the newsletters and yearbooks, and so many other omissions that have made my heart twist and surge with pain, I really just want to see him in a place where every day is a day for them to shine.
Because no matter what comparisons people may have in their minds, some of our kids have more severe manifestations of their diagnoses. With all the restrictions placed on special ed in public school, they were never going to get a chance to actually be part of the school community in anything more than a token way. And that stuff breaks parents’ hearts and spirits. We are no different from other parents; we want little opportunities to celebrate our kids, and we want to be around people who think our kids are fabulous.
My snarky little confession is: the mainstream community isn’t all that, for some families. Mainstream education methodologies can be a tangle of confusion for our kids. Mainstream kids can be soulless effers who think nothing of staring at, shaming, shunning or stalking our kids. And watching our kids get passed from grade to grade just because they’re getting older is not okay with us. #notallmainstream, but I shouldn’t have to qualify it, given everything our family has had thrown at us.
If I sound strident or bitter, well, I’m happy to report that seeing A in his school heals me. Students announce what’s on the lunch menu over the PA system. It doesn’t matter if they misread words or take time to enunciate. They are still taking the lead. The high schoolers have a prom every year. Everyone’s favorite hangout spot is the area where physical therapy happens. It’s in a well lit atrium, not some basement dungeon. And if a kid has an on-the-floor meltdown, the principal comes along to help and say a kind word. It’s treated as something that happens, and not as a crisis.
A may end up transitioning back to public school someday, who knows. But for now, where he is seems to be where he needs to be, and that took a lot of time and angst to achieve. In a parenting journey filled with self doubt and second guessing and other people’s criticism, it is nice to have one decision that promotes heartsease.