“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
My nephew and I, who both live with disabilities, have had a year of changes.
Many of the changes were external. I've watched my nephew grow in leaps and bounds as he started high school. I've also seen resources stretched, learned about IEP ins and outs, and realized myself how little I knew last year about what was about to happen this year on his educational journey.
Our educational system makes it inordinately difficult for children with disabilities to get an education. There are information gaps, snafus with communications, and time consuming, unnecessary oversights that sap the energy of the most devoted parent. How sad that many educators still don't get that every child is precious, no matter that he or she doesn't fit a preconceived mold. So much effort, it seems, is put into forcing children to fit that who they are can get lost and, even worse, the gifts a child does bring to the table are ignored.
Dr. Seuss would be appalled.
Don't get me wrong. I was never naive enough to assume the changes this year that both of us encountered would be easy. Nor would I ever teach my nephew not to expect some frustrations and difficulties when facing change. That's part of life. It is the ignorance toward disabilities, the accommodations required and the disrespect toward children with disabilities inherent in the ableist attitudes of some educators that I can never condone.
As an adult living with quadriplegia, I've long ago made peace with the fact that I'll encounter ableism from time to time. It's out there and a fact of life. Whether I'm doing things differently or depending on physical help, some see that as "less than" . Never mind that some accommodations make me more productive and that living with a disability has been an invaluable asset in many ways - there are those who judge so quickly that they lose out on learning about the rich diversity of other humans and assume negative things. This is part of why so many people with disabilities who want to work can not.
But I am much more concerned about our children with disabilities, because keeping them from accessing an education suited to their abilities makes it so difficult for them to be who they are. College prep isn't useful for everyone. Having a job isn't for everyone, but realistically preparing for a child's future should never be seen as a waste of resources or completely overlooked.
Until we value everyone's humanity, our social systems, including our educational system, will fall short of providing our kids with what they need. I know advocates and parents continue to work to improve the educational system's failure to respond to the needs of our children.
In the meantime, we can teach them to Be the Youest of You as we love them through their journey in an ableist world.
[This post was submitted to Blogging Against Disablism Day. You can read more posts here. ]