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Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

disabled

I went to a funeral for a young girl earlier this month. She caught a virus as a baby and spent her short life in a wheelchair, unable to communicate in any meaningful way.

Her father is a family friend of mine and a brilliant parent. His eulogy moved me like a speech never has. He said that having her changed his life. He had never even spent time with a disabled person before he met her, let alone parent one. He said that she showed him what it means to have strength, find pleasure even when under duress and he noted that even though she was never able to say a word, she communicated through her eyes and smile.

He said that he and his wife were adamant that she go to a regular school rather than a school for the disabled. He didn’t want her to feel typecast or branded, so he felt that the conventional classroom experience would be beneficial. He recounted how loyal and caring her classmates were. They would nurture her, make her feel important even when she couldn’t do what they were doing and help her whenever she needed it.  He said that he was stunned that in her dying days, her classmates would regularly make visits to her and tell her stories and share jokes.

He concluded by saying that he know fully appreciates how everyone in this world has a great purpose and a lasting contribution to make. His daughter showed him that much can be achieved, even under the toughest of circumstances.

There was not a dry eye in the house.

Reflecting on the eulogy, I can’t help but wonder if we have the right system in place for educating children with disabilities. Whilst I appreciate that severely handicapped children have special needs which may not be able to be fully accommodated in a regular classroom, it concerns me that our children do not get the opportunity to spend time and communicate with disabled children. It’s almost as if they are purposely separated from each other. Surely, it would make sense to pair our schools with associated schools for the disabled so that there can be days throughout the year where such interaction is possible. By forming alliances with schools for deaf, blind and wheelchair bound students, our students will get a greater awareness of the virtues of disabled children, and the disabled will be able to see the possibilities of making friendships beyond their handicap subgroup.

In my view it’s a clear win/win!

 

Click on the link to read my post on Meet the 14-Year-Old on his Way to Becoming a Nobel Prize Winner (Video)

Click on the link to read my post on Treatment of Autistic Children Says a Lot About Our Failing System

Click on the link to read Our Real Heroes are Not Celebrities or Athletes

Click on the link to read Girl Writes Cute Note to the Queen

Click on the link to read Instead of Teaching a Baby to Read, Teach it to Smile

Click on the link to read The 15 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in the English Language

Click on the link to read Who Said Grammar Isn’t Important?

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