As parents to children with special needs, we’re graced with many, many opportunities to kindly and compassionately educate others about our children. We endeavor to dispel myths, preach inclusion, and promote equality and acceptance. It’s not always easy to be so kind, especially when we read extremely ugly comments to posts online, or hear others speaking crassly about autism or other special needs.
Sometimes we just want to let the snark fly.
So I did. Here. Following are some of the things I only wish I could say sometimes. I’ve chosen to write responses to some of the most common questions we hear or read. Just to be clear, these are things I think in my head, not things I actually say. (I feel like I have to make that abundantly clear, so no one gets their panties in a bunch.)
“Why should our kids have to go to school with all these ‘challenged’ kids? Why shouldn’t kids with special needs go to their own school?”
It’s important that your children are prepared for the real world by being exposed to different kinds of people. When they are adults, no one will be there to shelter them from all the “different” people they will come in contact with, and we don’t want it to be a shock to their system when that happens.
“Why should our tax dollars be used to support kids with special needs? They use up money that schools could be using for materials, teacher salaries, and extracurriculars.”
Everyone knows that teachers are in it for the love of teaching*, not the money. It would almost be insulting to offer them MORE money, just for doing what they love. Besides, most of those special needs kids get denied for services they really need, so we’re not spending THAT much extra on them. I’ve also got enough cookie dough in my freezer from the PTA fundraiser to fund a sports team for an entire season.
“What if our children pick up bad habits from the special needs kids, who have unusual or severe behavior problems?”
Many behaviors occur because of teasing, bullying, or not being included by their peers. Your children should be safe as long as they continue to ignore the special needs children, as though they’re not really there. If one of them does have a behavior in front of your children, they should move as far away as possible and stare at the special needs child, whispering to their friends about him or her, and basking in the warm glow of satisfaction, knowing they aren’t as weird as that kid. Because being a friend to a child with specials needs is just unimaginable, right?
“These kids take up more of the teacher’s time in the classroom, so the rest of the kids suffer because they’re being held back.”
It’s true that children with special needs often need more one-on-one time, keeping the typical kids from mastering the content in record time, forging through the grade-level work by mid-year, and resulting in them not being the next Doogie Howser. That’s the reason we don’t ever see 14-year-old doctors in clinics and hospitals, and it’s a damn dirty shame. On the plus side, it saves parents from having to pick up their doctor-child at the end of their midnight shift.
I don’t know about you, but that felt good. Now that I’ve let the snark poison out of my system, I can go back to kindly and patiently educating these
stupid fuckers misinformed parents. I try to equate educating the masses with the formation of the Grand Canyon. Time and pressure. If time and pressure can carve out something so massive and breathtaking, then there’s hope for autism awareness and education.