No Place for the Developmentally Disabled

Note: I was unable to post Monday. My youngest (Apollo — 10 mos.) threw up green beans on me Saturday night and had he been in range Monday I would have fired back. So would have everyone else in my family. I got better, so I’m back.

Andrew Binion has reported on the lawsuit filed by advocates for disabled students attending school at former Bremerton Junior High School.

The Bremerton School District won the first round when a judge ruled the district was not responsible for providing the facilities for schooling. That falls to DSHS, the judge said.

According to Binion’s earlier story, the law requires developmentally disabled students (Most of the kids in question here have autism) to be educated in the same environment as non-disabled students. That isn’t the issue in the lawsuit. The issue centers on who’s responsible.

Nonetheless, the reader arguments following Binion’s first story focus heavily on whether the students with autism should be at the same schools as the general school population. tfm wrote:

“The mom had him placed there after he started to become aggressive toward her, which she attributed to the onset of puberty.” Do you think I want this child at the same school as my daughter? What about her rights??? her safety?

stunna20 responded:

Spencer is not going to bother your daughter, or interfere with her safety. This is about the rights of all to receive education at the public school without discrimination.

Certainly the broader question provides the context for the more current story. What Disability Rights Washington is up against after this loss, however, is that in theory a district could effectively deny access to the disabled by saying, “We have no room. It’s DSHS’s responsibility.” The district would still have to teach, but not at one of the schools. If that’s the way state law is written, then any mandate that the disabled be taught in the same places as the non-disabled could be moot.

8 thoughts on “No Place for the Developmentally Disabled

  1. ‘…People collectively who are crippled or otherwise physically handicapped…”

    Steven, there should be no question about a physically challenged person – they can and should be in regular schools, no questions about it.

    My dictionary specifies “disabled” as PHYSICALLY disabled… so why is there an issue with kids that have mental limitations?

    They deserve concentrated education and schooling to become the best they are capable of becoming…to learn to take care of themselves as best they can to live a quality life as independently as possible.

    To achieve success with that degree of specialization should mean a school of similar kids learning from specialists in that field. The learning challenged have different needs.

    Public school teachers should not be tasked to teach kids incapable of learning the same things, at the same average rate, as a non-learning challenged child.

    In my opinion… Sharon O’Hara

  2. Sharon, I disagree with you. Public school teachers should teach all kids. Just because a child learns in a different way or it takes them longer does not mean they can’t learn. We have lots of special ed teachers and most are wonderful at teaching our kids. Like I have said before, my daughter has a disability, graduated from high school and now has a job. It may not be a job that you or I would have but it is a job with real pay. Please do not under estimate kids or adults with disabilities. They are just like the rest of us, they just learn differently. Proud mom of a wonderful daughter with a disability.

  3. I’m sorry, Anonymous, but are you saying that all learning challenged kids are capable of graduating from high school?
    Because if that is the case, why should there be an issue?

    Is it possible there are different degrees of learning challenged kids and that your daughter is one of the luckier kids?

    If good parenting plays a role, I’d say your daughter is a very lucky girl.
    Best wishes,
    Sharon O’Hara

  4. Sharon, What I am saying is that all children should be given the oppurtunity to go to school with other kids. All children should be able to be around other kids and learn from each other. Example: If you are only around non speaking people and never hear the spoken word it is pretty hard to learn how to talk. Same with children, we learn by being exposed to different things. If we isolate kids they do not have the oppurtunity to learn things. A child may not have a skill, but by seeing others do something they can pick up the skill. Children with disabilities do have the same kind of feelings and thoughts as we who proclaim to be “normal”. You seem to be a smart woman but sometimes I wonder about your sensibility. Sorry I forgot to sign my name last time. Phyllis Bishop

  5. Phyllis, good points. I stand corrected, thank you.

    My personal experience is with a child who had a learning disability…a very slow learner…possibly dyslexic.

    Because of his size he was never held back, and passed on from grade to grade – in spite of protests – to do work he was incapable of doing, adding to his frustration and making him less able to learn.

    He was sent to a ‘special class’ for ‘slow’ students, and the rest of the time with the ‘regular’ class.

    The regular class kids teased him-as kids do.

    They called him stupid, a dummy ..and other, worse names until he was so confused he did not know he wasn’t stupid nor a ‘dummy’.

    His mother strained finances to have him tutored every summer from the second grade on….hoping he could catch up.

    For that boy, Phyllis, being in a regular class was a torture and something it took him years to move beyond.

    That boy, in that day and age should have been schooled and educated with other kids like him until he was firmly set in who he was, confident in his ability to learn. THEN he would be ready to move on..
    Or so it seems to me.
    Sharon O’Hara

  6. Sharon,
    I could not agree with you more in this case. Children with learning disabilities are brutally harrassed in regular classes which makes it very difficult for them to thrive in a learning environment. Unfortunately, “normal” kids have no concept of what it is like to be in a disabled person’s shoes, and they are not taught to understand the reasonging behind the disability, or to be compassionate. I went to school with a child who had cerebal palsy. Bless her heart, she could learn as well as anyone, but it was nearly impossible for her to make it through the day without brutal (and I mean BRUTAL) taunting. I will never forget her. I believe that if she had been put into a class with kids like her, she would have thrived much better. Fortunately cerebal palsy does not necessarily affect learning…in her case it affected her motor skills and coordination…she had a limp and she drooled a great deal. Other than that, she was an average student. That is why she was mainstreamed.

    In the case of kids with autism, they need SPECIALIZED care and attention. They cannot thrive in regular classrooms. They, in many cases, are extreeeemly intelligent, even geniuses in regards to math, music, english, etc, …but their social reasoning skills are completely messed up. Same goes for some kids with Down Syndrome.

    If we insist on mainstreaming these children, then we need a system in place that teaches “normal” kids to be compassionate towards their disbaled counterparts.

    This concept of “kids will be kids” i.e., they will make fun of, or bully, has to be rejected and not be tolerated. It’s easy to tell people to “get over it”, but it’s not easy to the one who is required to put up with it! Especially, if they have a disability that they have no control over.

  7. Sharon and Kris, I think what I said was that kids with special needs should be going to school with all the other kids. I don’t think I said they should be included in all aspects of the regular ed class room. The kids with disabilities deserve to have the same advantages as “regular” kids. To isolate them is wrong. I do know that some kids are picked on, or harrassed, but these days that happens to all kids. I think both of you need to go to the schools and meet some of these kids and see for yourself how they can have a meaningful experience in a regular school. DO NOT ISOLATE KIDS WHO ARE DIFFERENT!

  8. I am not saying to isolate these kids…I am suggesting that they need specialized attention. I hate this concept that kids will be kids and they will be made fun of. It’s wrong and we should NOT accept it just because “kids will be kids”. Kids need to be taught some compassion and THAT should be taught as a norm instead of allowing bullying to happen.

    It is not “meaningful” as you put it, to be made fun of over something you have no control over…it is not “meaningful” for a class to be disrupted constantly by a child with Autism…it’s NOT productive for the child with Autism, nor is it productive for a class to be continually interupted. There has to be a balance Anonymous. Just throwing them in together will not make the problem go away!

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