Posts Tagged ‘Disabilities’

Dreams Come True When People Show they Care

October 18, 2014


Blind kids don’t score touchdowns. Or do they?

Justin Olenginski scored his first touchdown on Oct. 11. It was an extraordinary moment for the 15-year-old, who was born blind and has special needs that prevent him from participating in sports.

His Dallas, Pennsylvania, community wanted to give him a memory he’d never forget, ABC News reports. So, the freshman’s high school football team named him captain for that Saturday’s game. After halftime, the announcer called Olenginski onto the field. While the other players watched, he took the quarterback’s handoff and walked down the field — with another player guiding him — to score a touchdown.

When he reached the end zone, the crowd erupted, fireworks were set off and his older brother, Michael, a senior and captain of the team, lifted him into the air as players from both teams crowded around them.


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

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



The Masterful Paintings of a 3-Year-Old Autistic Girl

July 1, 2013



All I can say is WOW! I can’t believe that a 3-year-old could be responsible for this!






Click on the link to read 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


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?

If Only All Special Needs Students Were Treated this Way

February 27, 2013

What a fitting and miraculous end to an absolutely amazing story. I hope this gets played in classrooms all over the world:

A special needs student from a Texas high school scored a basket in the final game of the season after a player from the opposing team gave up the ball.

Mitchell Marcus, a teenage student at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, is the team manager for the Coronado Thunderbirds and an avid basketball fan. During the last game of the season on Feb. 12, Marcus, who has a “developmental disability,” was given the chance to play, according to Fox local affiliate KFOX 14 in El Paso. With 90 seconds left, Coach Peter Morales put Marcus into the game.

Mitchell’s a great shot,” his mother Amy told KFOX. “He took his first shot and missed. It hit the rim. You just hear the whole crowd sighing. It went out of bounds and Franklin got it. We all knew that he wasn’t going to have his chance.”

Then, Jonathon Montanez, a senior at Franklin High School and a member of the opposing team, down by 10 points, tossed Marcus the ball. “Since we were down and there was only 13 seconds left, might as well give Mitchell his last shot,” Montanez told KFOX.

Marcus finally scored, and the crowd went wild.

A video of the game and Marcus’ basket went viral after being uploaded online.

CBS News correspondent Steve Hartnan knew he wanted to tell Marcus’s story. “It’s America at its best,” he told the El Paso Times. “When I grew up, kids like Mitchell got picked on, and to see how far we have come along is touching. I get emotional thinking about it.”

NBC Southwest station KTSM first reported on Marcus’ story the day after the game, calling it “the play of the year.”

“I was so happy then,” Marcus said about his shot. “It made my night.”

Over the past three years, Marcus has helped the Thunderbirds earn a No. 1 ranking in the city of El Paso.

Coach Morales spoke with ESPN’s El Paso radio station, KROD, about Marcus’s amazing experience.

“This kid is very very loyal to your program,” Morales told ESPN radio. “He’s dedicated. We’ve had kids that come to this program and play with us and this kid has been more loyal than some of those kids to us because he wants to be here.”

Click on the link to read I am a Proud Defender of the Mixed-Ability Classroom

Click on the link to read The Difficulties of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Click on the link to read Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

Click on the link to read Would You Notice if Your Child Was a Bully?

Click on the link to read Labelling Children is Extremely Harmful

Click on the link to read The Insanity of Modern Educational Thinking

Treatment of Autistic Children Says a Lot About Our Failing System

June 21, 2012

If I had to assess the effectiveness of our education system in one sweeping statement, it would be that our system is concerned with process over people.

What we must remember is, we are not only teaching human beings, we are teaching the next generation of citizens. The method in which we teach them and the way we treat them will have a dramatic impact on their view of the world. If we treat them with respect and empathy, they are more likely to grow up to be decent and generous people. If we treat them as guinea pigs the outcomes will not be as positive.

That’s why our system has to change. Programs and policies which are designed to avoid lawsuits rather than achieve outcomes have to go. As does the notion that children with disabilities can be put anywhere the budget bottom line dictates:

Autistic students are being told they can no longer attend specialist schools because their language skills are assessed to be too high in controversial year 6 tests.

Parents say their children, many of whom have attended autism schools all their lives, will be unable to cope and vulnerable to bullying if forced to go to a mainstream school.

Some have resorted to desperate tactics such as threatening to go to the media or applying to have their children reclassified as having a Severe Behaviour Disorder rather than autism so they can remain at autism schools.

Janeane Baker, whose 11-year-old son William has been at Northern School for Autism since prep, was horrified to learn her son no longer qualified for funding to remain at the school because he had passed a language test. ”It doesn’t matter that his mother has worked in the mainstream education system and knows that he would never survive there,” Ms Baker said. ”It doesn’t matter that his highly qualified teachers have never thought he would be able to be integrated. He can speak; therefore the government obviously thinks he is cured. They are very wrong – autism is for life.”Ms Baker had tried to integrate William with mainstream peers at junior cricket and Scouts but he got bullied because he was ”just that little bit too left of centre”.

Instead of treating this issue as a process dependant on academic evaluations, we must see this as a human issue. If children with disabilities are more likely to thrive in specialists schools we must do whatever we can to make sure that option is available to them.

Parents Wiring Their Children to Catch Out Abusive Teachers

April 27, 2012

I’ve maintained all along that teachers found to be verbally abusing their students should be made accountable for their actions, regardless of whether the offence was captured without their knowledge. Even though I am of this opinion, I completely object to the secret filming of teachers by students.

To read that parents are now wiring their own children to prove allegations made against teachers is very disappointing and a trend that needs to be stamped out:

Teachers hurled insults like “bastard,” ”tard,” ”damn dumb” and “a hippo in a ballerina suit.” A bus driver threatened to slap one child, while a bus monitor told another, “Shut up, you little dog.”

They were all special needs students, and their parents all learned about the verbal abuse the same way — by planting audio recorders on them before sending them off to school.

In cases around the country, suspicious parents have been taking advantage of convenient, inexpensive technology to tell them what children, because of their disabilities, are not able to express on their own. It’s a practice that can help expose abuses, but it comes with some dangers.

This week, a father in Cherry Hill, N.J., posted on YouTube clips of secretly recorded audio that caught one adult calling his autistic 10-year-old son “a bastard.” In less than three days, video got 1.2 million views, raising the prominence of the small movement. There have been at least nine similar cases across the U.S. since 2003.

“If a parent has any reason at all to suggest a child is being abused or mistreated, I strongly recommend that they do the same thing,” said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association.

But George Giuliani, executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and director of special education at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., says that while the documented mistreatment of children has been disturbing, secret recordings are a bad idea. They could, he said, violate the privacy rights of other children.

“We have to be careful that we’re not sending our children in wired without knowing the legal issues,” Giuliani said.

Stuart Chaifetz, the Cherry Hill father, said he began getting reports earlier in the school year that his 10-year-old son, Akian, was being violent.

Hitting teachers and throwing chairs were out of character for the boy, who is in a class with four other autistic children and speaks but has serious difficulty expressing himself. Chaifetz said he talked to school officials and had his son meet with a behaviorist. There was no explanation for the way Akian was acting.

“I just knew I had to find out what was happening there,” he said. “My only option was to put a recorder there. I needed to hear what a normal day was like in there.”

On the recording, he heard his son being insulted — and crying at one point.

He shared the audio with school district officials. The superintendent said in a statement that “the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district.”

Since taking the story public, Chaifetz, who has run unsuccessfully for the school board in Cherry Hill and once went on a hunger strike to protest special-education funding cuts, said he has received thousands of emails.

At least a few dozen of those he has had a chance to read have been from parents asking for advice about investigating alleged mistreatment of their children.

Mr. Chaifetz is clearly a loving father with the very best of intentions. Whilst I don’t advocate his methods, I understand that it comes from the frustration and shock of having his son labelled as a violent child. But the difference between Mr. Chaifetz and future copycat parents is that he underwent a long protracted process before going down this road. I fear that parents will be wiring their children in the first instance. It is also important to note that autistic children don’t have the same capacity to stand up for themselves and communicate verbal offences to their parents.

Teachers shouldn’t wire themselves to prove abuse on the part of students and vice versa. What we should be doing is working together instead of creating an us vs them mentality.

A Nut Allergy is Not a Disability

August 16, 2011

Being a father of a young girl with a nut allergy, I really hope that schools work hard to reduce the stigma of a child with anaphylaxis.  It would be a shame if she was ostracised or treated differently because of the allergy.  I personally am in awe of how she can deal with eating differently from her peers without so much as a whimper.  She just accepts her lot and doesn’t let it get her down.

I hope she never gets bullied because of it:

Children with potentially deadly nut allergies are being bullied for being different, say researchers.

And their parents are stigmatised as ‘neurotic and attention-seeking’ by other parents, they found.

Relatives of some victims of the condition are even suspected of deliberately giving a child nuts to check they really are allergic.

Overall, the impact of a nut allergy is so great that it could be considered a disability, the Leicester University researchers found.They interviewed 26 families from the Leicester area about their experiences.

Some children told how they were bullied by classmates, who taunted them about their allergy and threatened to trigger it.

What loving family member in their right mind would feed nuts to a child with a severe nut allergy to check if they are really allergic?    And for those parents that think we are “too neurotic” about ensuring that our children are safe and not exposed to substances that can kill them, take a long walk down a short pier.

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