Raise a glass (of apple juice) for the 10th anniversary of SPECIAL EDUCATION DAY! As we reflect and reform for the future, we also think back to the day that former President Ford signed IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
IDEA was ground-breaking legislation and provided education for all children with disabilities. Although we’ve come a long way, we need to think about education in the future. Back when I was in school, taking special education classes because of severe dyslexia, there was such a stigma that followed me and my friends everywhere we went. It is extremely frustrating (even now) to be a slow learner. Sometimes I don’t “catch” things very quickly and I hear someone say “duh”. Just a quick note about that – it’s rude! It’s also very rude to call us retarded or stupid. It’s sad that I even have to mention it.
I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until my mid-30’s. Long days and nights in the library in college produced a collection of C’s. Twelve of 13 medical schools rejected me. I was told that I was the least talented person in my residency and advised not to go into cardiac surgery. Time and again, I was told, “Don’t do it.” But sometimes the best advice is that which you don’t take. Instead of listening to people who told me to quit, I heeded the quote that sits on a small placard on my desk: “What can be conceived can be created.” I discovered only recently that it was from a 1980’s-era car advertisement. That’s OK, though, because it reminds me that dreams should be lofty. – Toby Cosgrove, M.D.
I’m sure kids today are more tolerant of their classmates who need a little extra help. There’s so much awareness these days about bullying and hopefully the kids in special education are not teased like we were. Through positive thinking, a patient teacher and innovation a child with special needs can be taught and one day be a vital, contributing member of society. Basic criteria include patient teachers, pro-active schools and loving parents.
This day was created to honor progress in special education and celebrate students with disabilities. We tip our hats to the teachers, schools and the patient parents and wish to open up a dialogue between them so that the children might benefit. Hopefully as a result, appropriate reforms will be made as needed.
One reform that was launched through Special Education Day is SpedEx, an innovative and successful child-focused dispute resolution model that is free for schools and parents. It works to create trust between the parties. For information about SpedEx, please visit www.spedexresolution.com.
If you are interested in hosting a celebration large or small in your school district or community, contact SED at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m happy to know that special education has advanced from when I was a kid! Hopefully through good communication, reforms will move special education forward, improving the teaching and learning for kids with special needs. 😀
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