Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Worth Celebrating?

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Worth Celebrating?

Article excerpt

I am writing this in October although you are reading this in December! October was National Disability Awareness Month--do we need a month to celebrate being unique?

I wonder is it necessary to "celebrate" disabilities--maybe yes and maybe no.

I get a lot of letters and phone calls from parents and teachers that focus on helping the child "fit in." I wonder, "fit" into what? Maybe it should really be in reverse.

"The teacher tells me that my child is just not fitting in well in the classroom." Some variance of this remark must be said to me at least 2-3 times a week. "Can you help my child fit in?"

I have heard this so much and have had so many comments made to me at parent/ teacher conferences, etc. that I thought that this would be a great place to open the discussion.

I welcome and request your feedback.

We all live a life that at one time or another just doesn't "fit" us right. Golly, weight loss centers are on almost every corner. There must be a lot of us who don't "fit." Sometimes it is more than our bodies that don't fit, and often this not "fitting" is translated into a description of a person who, in one way or another, has disabilities.

Finding a place to fit has it challenges whether one is an adult or a child, but when it is a child, the school the child attends limits the choices for finding safe places to "fit" into.

In October, Disability Awareness programs abounded in the public schools. They do raise sensitivity, but do they increase inclusion? I honestly do not know, but what I do know is that many children with disabilities would rather be invisible than noticed.

Too many children come into my practice worn down and angry and with almost vanished self-esteem. I had one child come in exuberant and say, "Mrs. Orloff, I had a great day!" Excited for him, asked for him to tell me all about it; when he did, my heart fell. "Well," he started, " got on the school bus and nobody bothered me; not one teacher called on me today; I got to eat alone at lunch; and my mom picked me up to come here, so I wasn't on the bus coming home!"

This vignette was related with triumph and relief--and left me incredibly sad. "A great day" should not be one where you are invisible, and yet many children with learning issues would prefer invisibility to displaying their inadequacies to their peers. They feel left out, and time and experience have unfortunately taught them to clear out before they are left out--again. …

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