My son was looking forward to his graduation for months. He was so EXCITED to celebrate his small accomplishments and looked forward to sharing the experience with those he calls his friends. As the hype of this event continued he told me that he looked forward to all of the awards that would be distributed during the ceremony. I have no clue where he received this information from but he was aware that it was coming. I know my son isn’t where the State wants him to be academically, and probably not even where his teachers would prefer, but I don’t care. He is where I NEED him to be at this point and it’s okay. Being behind doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made some significant academic strides and that his progress should not be recognized. So I found myself asking, why shouldn’t every child receive an academic award?
I know the parents of those children who receive this awards might say, “my child worked so hard and they really earned it!” Well, so did mine! Taking the smallest steps, my child made those strides which were developmentally appropriate for him and they shouldn’t go unrecognized….but they did. Again, educators aren’t trained properly in this area! I know I wasn’t! I learned about setting realistic goals and the value of awarding even tiny accomplishments through my son with ASD and I am so proud of it. I am proud that he has made me the detail-focused and compassionate person that I am now. I am non-judgmental because of him, I can admit (and be proud of) that!
What others don’t realize is that they are NOT taking the WHOLE child into consideration when distributing awards. Sure, he was recognized for early morning broadcaster which he truly loved with several others but he wasn’t given the opportunity to bask in the moment on the stage and celebrate that accomplishment with peers and parents looking on. He wasn’t given a kudos for his academic efforts and I witnessed many others who didn’t receive that recognition from their teachers or administrators either and that saddened me. We shouldn’t need recognition to move forward, of course, but it helps in the lives of children. It makes them feel valued and important, as it does for many adults. Sadly, I witnessed some children receive awards for “leadership” but they were the same children who bullied others throughout the year! The teachers had it all wrong!
I am in no way perfect but throughout the years in my classroom we have made sure that every child walks away with at least two or three awards for their progress. The awards are tailored to their needs and accomplishments. If I had a child who I knew talked a lot I would add a twist and provide them with an award for “best speaker”. The child was so proud because they were addressed in a negative way but with a positive spin instead. All children are deserving of an award. Thankfully, my child knows his value isn’t identified by an award and we reinforce this by the love and recognition we give him. Slowly, as he gets older and more mature, I want him to realize there will be others (some educators) who will judge and who will not understand him but their opinion nor their position has no value on his character or who he really is. His family, we know who he is and we understand him. We know he is destined for success and he will accomplish what he sets out to achieve with the help of his parents, strong advocates and great educators who I know still remain in our system….somewhere. I am trying not to lose hope!
Care to share: Do you think our children with special needs get the recognition they deserve?
Dr Lisa says
Eileen, This goes on in our school too. I sat in on the intermediate graduation (huge by the way) and my son along with his peers in the Inclusion cycle did not receive awards. In fact, many of them were not even aware of how to get them. It concerned me greatly because the cycle that got the most awards was the gifted one. Did those teachers tell their students about the awards and how to win one? Did they have more confidence the gifted gits had the ability follow through and get awards? Did the administration sit down and think possibly about awards that would help the Inclusion children feel amazing about themselves? It really is for my District, ASS BACKWARDS. All kids deserve awards and personally if you can’t see the good in a child, you should not be in education. Every child can shine, some educators just have to know where the on switch is.
Yes every child deserves an award!!! If a child learns 2 words in a school year that child deserves an award. Each child’s journey is different and learning 2 words is just as important as reading on grade level. I agree with acknowledging success but at what cost to the child with special needs. Kudos to you Elieen for representing and speaking out for children with special needs.
Yes, they deserve awards because they actually work harder than most students to get level of their peers. I have seen so much change in my daughter since March when she started school and I can credit that to her teachers but also to her working hard. Her teachers even talk about how hard she works to keep up to the level of her peers. So while their award may be a little different…they totally deserve SOMETHING to award their efforts!
I agree I was just doing research and found your comment I have 2 boys on the spectrum one in 8th grade I was looking up the criteria for an award and I thought to myself my child’s only chance of getting one is perfect attendance ? And that’s pretty much it and it made me sad and upset that i never thought that my kids only chance is such a meaningless reward that he could achieve . I do get them on time to school and keep up as well as I can a routine with my kids but to have thier milestones for thier abilities to overcome certain obstacles go unnoticed is unfair to say the least . It is just assumed that they will never be able to achieve the awards that are given to ” normal ” kids . I hate that we even have to have yet another fight to face when having our kids try to be accepted into society for being different if the fact that inclusion is already in place shouldn’t certain awards be as well ? Maybe they should make an award for having been the most normal in middle school .! Or for how they made it through without having a meltdown all year , or how their able to always follow the rules and call out anyone who doesn’t or how about a no filter award my kids are part Asian and ASD the filter is just non-existent .. It’s just crazy how they give us so little and expect us to be happy with the little we get well they are about to get an advocate that will put it in perspective for them !