I've seen the "In My Language" video before, but after watching it again last week, it hit me even harder. It is a video made by Amanda Baggs, who has autism. She explains her perception of the world in a very poignant way. Please watch it: www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnylM1hI2jc
I've also attached a link to her blog in case you want to read more about her. http://ballastexistenz.autistics.org/
Amanda's perspective is important to me because it helps explain that just because someone has a disability does not mean they aren't a person. They hear us, they have feelings, thoughts, opinions. They have the ability to learn, to teach us things, and to love. They deserve to be included in everything we do, too. It's not a good excuse anymore to exclude children with disabilities from regular classrooms anymore simply because they can't do the "regular" work. They have important contributions to make in this world too, and if we keep excluding them from it, we'll never benefit from those contributions.
I've recently gone back to school to become a Special Education teacher. It took me a long time to decide to do this because I'm not a fan of the way our public schools treat children with disabilities. Furthermore the curriculum, interventions, and assessments involved in Special Ed surround proving the child has a disability, then proving you are doing something about it. This is all a distraction from the real issue, we don't actually know what to do with these kids. Lots of smart people are studying interventions as we speak, taking lots of data and writing lots of papers with the only real conclusion being that instruction and curriculum must be individualized. Hmm.
What I think it all comes down to, and what the schools will not (at least in the near future) admit, is love. We have to be willing to know these kids, to love them, to genuinely want the best for them. This is where true teaching comes from, love for a child. And I'm not going to be scared anymore to say it. How many meetings have I sat through where we get lectured on "proximity to clients," and the mortal sin of "enmeshment" with clients? Too many to count. Well, I'm becoming a teacher because somebody has to try and make it better. Forget data sheets and assessment forms for now, I'll start with love.