#notspecialneeds, just human needs

Despite the crazy cat massage, I was really touched by the message of this ad today. (I found out about it when Nate walked into our home wearing colorful, mismatched socks, and I noticed.)

I graduated from university as a special educator. I had an opportunity to work with children who had special needs as I completed my student teaching and also in my job as a special education seminary teacher prior to graduation.

But I never wanted to be a special educator after graduation. I never felt totally comfortable with the way education approached children with special needs. Removing children with individual needs reminds me of racial segregation. Today when I watched this video and saw the conclusion, I felt like they described my feelings–that all children have needs, just like everyone else in our human family.

When it comes to education, I believe each child has particular needs that may not be met by the traditional way of teaching. This isn’t just for children with obvious differences! It is true for ALL children. I believe that educating all children together (mainstreaming children with “special needs”) allows every child to learn from the other, to become more compassionate, to learn to service, respect, protect, and ennoble one another in ways that children naturally do before they learn from adults how to not do that. Children with learning or physical disabilities have talents that can teach those without. There is so much children learn from one another, and that we as adults could learn from working with them together.

When I visited my mission in November 2015, I reconnected with a friend who is the mother of a teen with Down’s Syndrome. She told me about a wonderful school of dance program called DragonFly that is helping children with DS to progress academically. They combine learning “numeracy and literacy” with dance. I reviewed it online, was inspired by it, and wondered, Wouldn’t this approach also help other children not with Down’s Syndrome? Couldn’t we do things like this to help every child?

I have seen some wonderful integration at each of my children’s schools, and I hope this is an upward trend across the nation. I know that having opportunities to work with others who can use a helping hand in the classroom setting has blessed our family’s lives.

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