I picked up the local newspaper this morning to find Special Education as the front page story (Toronto Star also wrote a thing or two here). I’ll admit it — a smile crept across my youthful face and dark laughter roared loudly in my mind as I rode the subway to the downtown core. The school boards have finally been exposed! Truth be told! Then the reality set in and the day went on…
“Special Needs Kids Often Told to Stay Home from School”, the title of the Toronto Star article read and I really had to scratch my head. It’s 2014 people – we have technology and knowledge at our fingertips, thousands and thousands of teachers out of work. Children with special needs are no longer locked up in homes across North America so why are children like A are just “Special Needs Kids” not “Kids with Special Needs? Are we really progressing as a society?
Will the average person remember this issue, do something about it today or bury it tomorrow and forget? What about the politicians? I read the same stories time and time again and the school boards crying, “No money.” The recent articles on this topic re-opened wounds I previously licked clean. The dejection of being wound tight in the red tape of our current educational system reared it’s ugly head again. Fighting to the death to ensure A had a Special Needs Assistant in his classroom.. only for him to be placed in a new school, “behavioural program” far from home. Ah well, remember — I pick my battles.
The article (and subsequent stories) leave us to pass the blame instead of working together to find a permanent solution. Children with special needs are casualties, one falling through the cracks every day. Parents on the front lines are left to fend for their families while others don’t even make it. Will anyone ever truly understand the challenges I face more than the average parent? Heck, most of the people I run into week after week don’t even know I have kids. I just don’t talk about how my day really was any more. I’m so proud of my bright eyed boy – my driving force – but because no one I know can ever possibly relate, I keep quiet. “Good” is always the universal and simplest of answers. The constant whirlwind of doubt, perceived failure, anxiety, empowerment, success, sadness, anger, confusion, despair and more all directly related to the fight no one should ever have to fight.
I just want to know what the future holds for my family. Will my son be allowed to return to his neighbourhood school and learn in a regular classroom with support? Will he be able to hold down a job with the (lack) of support he receives today? Will he ever be treated as an equal? Am I doing enough? Will parents facing the same struggles be able to rise above? Most importantly – will change happen?