There are more than 6 million children in the U.S. with disabilities, from physical to developmental, and the numbers keep growing. The epidemic is leaving parents overwhelmed while the area's educational systems work overtime to meet demand.
As educators, we should have the courage to revisit our approaches to serving all kids, including students with special needs, and be willing to boldly innovate so that we can offer students the support they need to succeed while being challenged.
I can't single-handedly change education in this country, but I can teach my students to think for themselves, embrace their diverse skills, and encourage them to value learning simply for the sake of knowledge, not as some precursor to vocational wealth.
There just isn't a teacher, a doctor or other well-meaning professional who definitively knows what is "best" for my child. As Zoe's mother, I see her as the whole child she is: her spirit, her strengths, her abilities.
True special needs schools felt like segregated ghettos, where there was no peer modeling for someone like Charlotte to emulate. But in a typical school, she'd be singled out for being "different," and that label would brand her. Then we found CHIME.
Mitt Romney wants to build battleships and cut government spending. That means that Americans with special needs are going to suffer, for the federal government already shamefully underfunds special education.
Fifty years ago, I watched my parents try to help my developmentally disabled brother. They were told multiple times to dispose of their defective child in an institution. I'm not sure how much less agonizing it is today.