You do not belong here
How to help special needs children feel accepted By Don Short
Over the years my wife and I have been foster parents to 35 children and chose to adopt one of them. Our adopted son came to
BODY & SOUL
us as a foster child at the age of 6. We adopted him at the age of 8 years old and raised him into adulthood. He had severe ADHD and even with medication he was a challenge to work with at home, church and school. I remember that when we moved to St. Martin Parish from Lafayette Parish. His teacher took it upon herself to remove him from the graduation track and placed him on the certificate track. We protested this move! The teacher explained that everyone else in his class was on the certificate track. I pointed out that my son has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) with the emphasis on the “Individual.” All decisions are to be based on the needs and goals of the student and not those of the teacher or the class. She complied, but it still was not a good year for my son. An uncommitted and unmotivated teacher is not useful when it comes to special needs children working on and achieving their goals. The following year we bought a house in Lafayette Parish. My wife went to enroll our son into school, and the principal asked her, “Which trailer park do you live in?” He then informed her, “We don’t accept those kind of kids (with IEP’s) in our school.” In other words, “You don’t belong here!” Needless to say, I was not pleased with this response from the school administration. What the principal did not know was that I was familiar with the Special Education Department in Lafayette Parish and knew several staff personally because of my position as the Regional Director of Gulf Coast Social Services. We called a school-based meeting to address my concerns related to my child attending their school. The appropriate staff from the Special Education Department and the staff at the school were very helpful in addressing all the areas of my concern. My son had a wonderful teacher that year! She worked really hard to see that he received the best education possible.
Let’s be proactive in making all of God’s children feel like they belong in and are accepted into our family, our community and into our churches. 16
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