I have spoken openly about the way I feel the system is “failing” our children. Many teachers aren’t properly trained to deal with children with special needs and various learning disabilities and are quick to pass judgement on them and their families. In my opinion, the school system needs more training beginning with the leaders right down to the school lunch aides. It’s all about accommodating the children, in my point of view, meeting them where they are at in order to support them to succeed.
During my son’s graduation ceremony a few weeks ago as I was enjoying the moment and was so extremely proud of him, I observed a few things. I know many children can’t stay still for a long time (short attention span) but many educators don’t keep in mind that children with sensory issues can’t handle sitting for that long either. At times, as a teacher, for those children who are fidgety, we place a piece of velcro under their desks so they can have something to touch throughout the day. I observed my son and others who were, by the way sitting on these hard a** chairs, moving, putting their heads down, stretching and being what some might call “disruptive”. Did they ever thing of more comfortable, accommodating seating for “our” children?
If our system is “all about the children” and accommodating their individual needs and abilities, why don’t they think of these things? Why don’t they provide children during long events like these with soft chairs, at least a variety of some, a shorter ceremony, and even awards that may tailor to something that they are good at, not just focusing on academics, an area in which they may be weak (there will be a post about this to follow up on this one). I say to myself, “Are we really keeping our children in mind when we are creating these ceremonies? Are we really accommodating our children?” I’m thinking no.
As educators, we need to think a little bit more out of the box and begin to consider all of the children. Throughout my career all I have heard about is differentiation when we teach, and making sure no child is left behind and all are accounted for. When I see something as simple as this, and consider how it should have been well planned out to meet the needs of all, it’s disheartening to me as the mother of a child with ASD. I often think, will he ever be thought of a little bit more? Will he matter enough to take the time to get to know him and NOT judge him based on behavior observed in a less than accommodating environment? The distribution of awards is an entirely different rant but for now, this is something to think about. Parents need to advocate for their children and support educators to make changes for the better. For future generations to come. Kids with ASD and sensory processing issues aren’t going away and they have a right to a fair and equal education just like any other kid.