Friday, April 4, 2014

It Just Wasn't the Same for Beth

I'm working on Beth's scrapbook. It's one of her throughout school, a little late, I know. Eleven years late to be exact. But she'll definitely be surprised when she gets it! :) She was my first and I had no idea what pictures to take or mementos to save for a scrapbook but it's finally coming together.

As I'm doing it, I can't help but compare hers to Sharaya and Diana's books. (Those were done and given to them when they graduated.) Their books are filled with pictures from field trips and choir, basketball and yearbook staff.

Beth's is rather... boring. There were no field trips. No extra-curricular activities.

I'm realizing how much Beth actually missed out on at school. She was always in special ed classes, separated from the rest of the population (except for lunch) and I remember asking the teachers why the seniors in Beth's class never went to Senior Class assemblies. Or had their picture taken with the Senior class. Why they didn't take part in Spirit Week? I was never given a straight answer.

Now I realize the logistics of taking a group of high schoolers who have multiple special needs out to the zoo or a ball game can be overwhelming. Maybe they just didn't have the staff to do it, I get that, but why couldn't they have taken the 3 or 4 Seniors to the Senior Class photo? Or the special Senior Assemblies? Or taken the kids to their class events? I think that has all changed at the high school now but it kind of hurts when I think about the way it was for Beth and her friends.

I've always known Beth missed out on things in school but as I make her scrapbook, each page is a reminder of just how much she missed. And I'm sure it's bothering me more than it will ever bother Beth. She was very happy at school. One thing she did do was take her camera to school and I have lots of photos that she took of her friends and teachers. Lots of unfocused, uncentered pictures, but they're hers and I'm including every one!

Can I just say, keep fighting for your kids to have the same education as their peers. They will all experience it differently but I believe they should all have the experience.


Sharaya said...

Yeah I remember when Beth and I were in Elementary school at the same time and in high school at the same time and I NEVER saw her, unless I was called to go and help with her. All my classmates who had syblings at that school would see them all the time, but I never saw Beth. They really were seperated from everyone else. :'(

pearson1 said...

The school really did a dis-service for your daughter. They should have involved all of the students with special needs into those activities. I graduated from high school in 1995, and the students with significant special needs were involved in ALL of those activities, went to prom, had peer tutors, attended general education classes and so forth. I taught special education in a general education middle school for 5 years, and we always made sure the students were as involved as we possibly could. I worked in one of the states with one of the lowest per pupils spending units in the nation, and only ever had paraeducators who were incredibly part time (no more than 17 hours a week)--so any excuse your school gave you was complete and utter lies. It just shows that they were lazy and unwilling to fight the fight. I went toe to toe with administrators, school counselors, even some of my teaching peers if I had to. Anything less than that means a special educator is NOT doing their job. I'm sorry you daughter was cheated from what she deserved!!! Maybe you should make a copy of her scrap book compared to one of your other daughter's scrap books, send it to the district superintendent, school board, school administrators, and your daughter's past special education teacher (I'd even send it to the media--but I'm forceful like that)---and shove it in their face how obvious the discrimination was toward your daughter--how different HER education was compared to your other daughters---maybe just put a 1 question letter in with the copies "Do you notice any differences OTHER than that one of my daughters has DS?" Then say "Attitude is the only real disability in life!!!" Anyway--sorry! mp

Stephanie said...

Thank you for sharing this, Cindy. Things have changed some but we'll have to continue to fight to be included. I'll remember this each time I think it won't matter or it isn't a big deal because I know it is.

Caz said...

I can imagine it is hurtful to feel that Beth missed out, and certainly schools have no excuse in not doing whatever it takes to include every one of their pupils. On the other hand, how fantastic that Beth was happy at school, and that you're capturing that time for her. Neither of those things can be taken for granted.

Life with Kaishon said...

I really think it is different now! It seems like schools do a really good job of including special needs kids now. Sometimes teachers tell me they inclusion gets to be a little irksome to the students with special needs! : )