Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tolerance. Inclusion. Acceptance. Understanding. Love

My brother has Down syndrome. This should not be new news to any of you, but just in case it was, now you know.

He is an extremely important person in my life; there is nothing I wouldn't do for him. From the time he was born I was involved in a world that a lot of people don't get to see or experience. It's not easy; the road is very rocky, sometimes impossible to travel, many times so dark you think you'll never get to see light again. But sometimes, oh sometimes, it is the best place in the world and you think to yourself "No one else will never know what this feels like. What this means." It's not an easy road, but no one ever said life was easy, right?

I worked with various agencies who provide services for children and adults with special needs. Throughout this work I have met some truly incredible people. But most of all, through getting to know these parents, I feel like I have gotten to know own mother a little bit better.

When I was younger and my brother was just starting school, my mother would spend hours on the phone, usually with school officials, teachers, social workers, etc, and most of the time she would be livid. You see, 15 years ago schools were not the accepting places for children with special needs that they are now (yes, you read that right, but we'll get to the present in a moment).  There was a school in Charlotte that was just for kids with special needs. No "typical" kids, no "typical" activities. And the school board wanted my brother there. My mother did not. She understood he needed to be included and not secluded. She understood that in order for him to grow, to change, to learn from his peers, he needed inclusion. It was a constant battle to get him placed into schools and while I'm not really sure of all the specifics, I know that she had to fight for his right to an education up until he entered high school. And even getting him into the high school that I had attended took threats of lawsuits and lawyers.

It's not a cakewalk today, by any means. Parents still have to fight for their children; they have to fight to get their kids into schools, they have to fight to get their kids the extra help they may need to succeed. And to top it all off they have to deal with ignorant dumbasses  parents and teachers who truly believe that their children don't deserve to be treated like other students or even, like humans.

The reason I bring all of this up is because horrible things still happen in schools. When a parent sends their child to school they expect that child to be safe, to be treated properly, and to be given an education. What they do NOT expect is their child to be ignored, physically punished, or emotionally abused (I am not getting into gun violence today).

I have a temper. In my opinion it's not as bad as it used to be, but there are still things that make me see red. Take this article:

First of all: it's SHOES. Get some perspective. It's not like there's book burning going on. And I don't blame her; I take my shoes off every chance I get, too.

Second of all: Those parents are unbelievable; I can't believe how calm and collected they were. I would have probably done something incredibly unreasonable and irrational.

You would think special ed teachers would be the most patient, kind, understanding, accepting people out of the whole teacher population. But looking back at my brother's teachers, they really aren't (except for his high school teachers-they were absolutely amazing. I am so grateful for them, that he had these wonderful women in his life). And I don't understand that.

Tolerance. Inclusion. Acceptance. Understanding. Love.  As a sister, that is what I want out of people for my brother. I can't imagine that parents (of any child) would want something different for their child.

I think that about covers it (for now). I'll probably have to get back up on my soapbox at some point, but for now I'm stepping down.

1 comment:

  1. You have a very special heart because of your brother. He is a wonderful blessing to your family.


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