Posts Tagged ‘Children with Disabilities’

I Once Had a Gun Put to My Head Whilst Teaching

February 13, 2020

 

 

In my first year as a teacher, I had a nasty experience.

As I was teaching a 6th Grade class, an 8th grader stormed into my classroom looking angry, adorning a vicious look and immediately approached me, put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger.

I flinched in pure, unadulterated fear.

Turns out the gun was a plastic toy. Albeit, a lifelike plastic toy.

The kid involved thought the nasty trick was hilarious. So did the entire 6th Grade class.

I was stunned that after I described the event to my Principal and the enormous negative effect it had on my mental state, the best he could do was give the kid in question an in-house suspension.

That’s right, the kid wasn’t even sent home! The parents weren’t even called in!

So, you can imagine that I am very sensitive about threats against teachers, especially when they involve guns.

But, even after recounting my brush with gun violence at the hands of a student, I find this story absolutely rediculous and an extraordinary case of overreach:

 

A Pennsylvania elementary school called the police after a kindergartner with Down syndrome made a finger gun at her teacher. Officials concluded there wasn’t a threat, but the girl’s mother said they went too far.

Maggie Gaines called on the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District to update its threat assessment policy after her 6-year-old daughter Margot was questioned by administrators for making a gun gesture at her elementary school teacher and pretended to shoot her.
Gaines said it was a harmless expression of anger. But Margot’s school in southeast Pennsylvania determined her actions appeared threatening, so they conducted a threat assessment

THANK YOU!:

I recently donated 100% of the royalties of my #1 bestselling new children’s book (Amazon.com.au bestsellers list), My Favourite Comedian, from the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. Thank you for your support! This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

School is the Place to Make Better Connections with Our Disabled

March 12, 2015

 

I know it’s a shameful plug of a product but this ad is quite wonderful. It shows us up for not investing enough time to communicate and fully connect with people who have disabilities.

 

 

Click on the link to read my post on Dreams Come True When People Show they Care

Click on the link to read my post on Hitchens: Dyslexia is NOT a Disease. It is an Excuse For Bad Teachers!

Click on the link to read my post on Valuable Tips for Teaching Children With Autism
Click on the link to read my post on Autistic Boy Gives an Inspiring Graduation Speech

Click on the link to read my post on Girl Banned from Museum because Her Wheelchair May Dirty Their Carpet

Hitchens: Dyslexia is NOT a Disease. It is an Excuse For Bad Teachers!

March 2, 2014

 

dyslexia

While I cannot comment on a report that claims there is no easy definition for dyslexia, I do agree that learning difficulties and ADHD labels have been helpful to poor teachers looking for an excuse.

Mr Hitchens has gone a lot further than I would, but the fact that many teachers rely on labels such as dyslexia to avoid full responsibility for a child’s lack of progress is hard to dispute:

I doubt there has ever been a society so easily fooled by pseudo-science and quackery as ours is. Millions of healthy people take happy pills that  do them obvious harm, and are increasingly correlated with inexplicable suicide and worse.

Legions of healthy children are drugged into numbness because they fidget during  boring lessons, and countless people are persuaded that they or their children suffer from  a supposed disease called ‘dyslexia’, even though there is no evidence at all that it exists.

A few weeks ago I rejoiced at the first major cracks in this great towering dam of lies. Dr Richard Saul brought out his courageous and overdue book, ADHD Does Not Exist.

I also urge everyone to read James Davies’s book Cracked, on the inflated claims of psychiatry since it sold its soul to the pill-makers.

Now comes The Dyslexia Debate, published yesterday, a rigorous study of this alleged ailment by two distinguished academics – Professor Julian  Elliott of Durham University, and Professor Elena Grigorenko of Yale University.

Their book makes several points. There is no clear definition of what ‘dyslexia’ is. There is no objective diagnosis of it. Nobody can agree on how many people suffer from it. The widespread belief that it is linked with high intelligence does not stand up to analysis.

And, as Parliament’s Select Committee on Science and Technology said in 2009: ‘There is no convincing evidence  that if a child with dyslexia is not labelled as dyslexic, but receives full support for his or her reading difficulty, that the child will do any worse than a child who is labelled dyslexic and then receives special help.’

 This is because both are given exactly the same treatment. But as the book’s authors say: ‘Being labelled dyslexic can be perceived as desirable for many reasons.’ These include extra resources and extra time in exams. And then there’s the hope that it will ‘reduce the shame and embarrassment that are often the consequence of literacy difficulties. It may help exculpate the child, parents and teachers from any perceived sense of responsibility’.

I think that last point is the decisive one and the reason for the beetroot-faced fury that greets any critic of ‘dyslexia’ (and will probably greet this book and article). If it’s really a disease, it’s nobody’s fault. But it is somebody’s fault. For the book also describes the furious resistance, among teachers,  to proven methods of teaching children to read. Such methods have been advocated by  experts since Rudolf Flesch wrote his devastating book Why Johnny Can’t Read almost 60 years ago.

There may well be a small number of children who have physical problems that stop them learning to read. The invention of ‘dyslexia’ does nothing to help them. It means they are uselessly lumped in with millions of others who have simply been badly taught.

It also does nothing for  that great majority of poor readers. They are robbed of one of life’s great pleasures and essential skills.

What they need, what we all need, is proper old-fashioned teaching, and who cares if the silly teachers think it is ‘authoritarian’? That’s what teaching is.

Click on the link to read my post on Valuable Tips for Teaching Children With Autism
Click on the link to read my post on Autistic Boy Gives an Inspiring Graduation Speech

Click on the link to read my post on Girl Banned from Museum because Her Wheelchair May Dirty Their Carpet

Click on the link to read my post on Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

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

Valuable Tips for Teaching Children With Autism

November 26, 2013

 

ism

Courtesy of blog.gryphonhouse.com:

1. Remember that autism is a spectrum disorder.

Children with autism display a range of behaviors and abilities, and they exhibit symptoms that range from very mild to quite severe. The word autism can describe a child who fits anywhere within that range.

2. Always use child-first language when describing the child.

The child with autism who is in your classroom is just that—a child with autism, not an “autistic child.” Child-first language helps others see that you view the child first and the disability second.

3. Focus on the child’s interests.

When trying to encourage a child with autism to play, focus on the interests of the child and make interactions with others as natural as possible.

4. Remember that novel situations can be overwhelming.

Recognize that children with autism may have difficulty adjusting to new play situations and new play materials.

5. Recognize that the environment is important.

Children with autism need a special place in the room where they can go without distraction and without all the sensory input they receive elsewhere.

6. Begin social-skills training early.

Learning how to respond in social situations should begin as early as possible. It is a critical skill for children to possess and enables them to interact with others more easily.

7. View parents as partners.

Parents often agree that the one thing a teacher can do to understand their perspective is to be respectful of their opinions and treat them as valued contributors.

8. Value the uniqueness of each child.

Each child is unique, and while she may have characteristics typical of other children with autism, she will have other characteristics that are not.

9. Remember that there is no one single method that works.

There is no magic pill or specific program that can “cure” or “fix” autism. While many programs and methods have been tried and are successful with some children, they may not be successful with others. Look for methods with a solid research base.

10. Consider that learning about autism is a process.

Learning about autism is not about a product; it is about a process of gathering information and making informed choices, based on the needs of the individual child.

 

Click on the link to read my post on Autistic Boy Gives an Inspiring Graduation Speech

Click on the link to read my post on Girl Banned from Museum because Her Wheelchair May Dirty Their Carpet

Click on the link to read my post on Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

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

Autistic Boy Gives an Inspiring Graduation Speech

July 20, 2013

 

 

As we leave here today I have a challenge for all of you. We are all different. Not less, just different. We all have things we’re good at, things we need to work on, and things we need help with. Whenever you see someone else who is different, instead of just judging them or being a bully, I challenge you to offer help and treat that person with the kindness you have shown me over the last six years. Remember, all of you can make a difference in someone’s life. You’ve already made a difference in mine.”

 

 

Click on the link to read my post on Girl Banned from Museum because Her Wheelchair May Dirty Their Carpet

Click on the link to read my post on Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

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

Girl Banned from Museum because Her Wheelchair May Dirty Their Carpet

July 16, 2013

 

lexi

What a terrible thing to do to a young child with a disability. Much credit must be given to the girl’s parents for accepting the apology. Many wouldn’t have:

An 11-year-old girl was barred from a museum’s exhibits because an employee said her wheelchair would dirty the carpet.

Lexi Haas of Charlotte, N.C., was visiting the Ships of the Sea Museum in Savannah, Ga., with her family on July 7 when a woman at the desk said Lexi would have to use a museum wheelchair, WBTV reports.

However, since Lexi is unable to sit up on her own, she was unable to use the museum’s strapless wheelchair, according to the station. The museum then proposed that Lexi watch a video outside while the rest of the family checked out the displays, but the family declined.

“We didn’t get to see the museum and my daughter’s feelings were hurt,” Lexi’s dad, Ken Haas, told The Huffington Post.

The museum confirmed the incident and issued a public and private apology for the employee’s behavior and misunderstanding of museum policy.

Instead of filing a complaint, the father said he accepted the apology and used the encounter to raise awareness.

“I’m happy people are more aware of disability rights and that’s plenty for me,” he told HuffPost. “I didn’t want anybody to get fired. I wanted them to update their policy and their way of thinking.”

Lexi has Kernicterus, a condition in which yellow pigment collects in brain tissue and causes neurological impairment. Lexi cannot speak well but can communicate “yes” or “no,” Haas said, and she was fully aware of what transpired.

“She’s not thinking about this,” he said, reiterating that “there wasn’t any real damage.”

“We like museums. We just want them to include everybody,” he added.

 

 

Click on the link to read my post on Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

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

Disabled Children: A Missed Opportunity for Us All

June 29, 2013

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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