“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Friday, September 30, 2011

"Your child has plateaued"

Had coffee with a friend of mine who's father is a doctor who works with many children with disabilities. He related the story of how his father will have interactions with teachers about the educational program of one of their students, and they will say to the doctor,
"There isn't really much more we can do. The child has plateaued."
So, as a teacher of a child with severe disabilities, I needn't do anything for the child because they have plateaued. Now that doesn't mean that I won't continue to collect my paycheck for supposedly being their teacher, supposedly educating them. But at the same time, you can't expect anything of the child in terms of skill development because they have plateaued. My only response to such a statement is 'HOW DARE YOU!" Who do you think you are claiming to be able to look at another human being and say that you have the ability to know that they can no longer learn anything?

I have seen slacker teachers who do not do anything educationally for their students, but even those slackers would admit that they are just lazy. They would not say that they are not doing anything because the children don't have the ability to learn. That such people could thrive within the educational system of our country indicates how dysfunctional that system is. It also indicates what the perception of the educational system is relative to individuals with severe disabilities. The system itself through its actions may support the limited expectations by its minimal expectations of teachers.

It breaks my heart and makes me angry when I occasionally see teachers that I have trained that are now useless to their students, giving them nothing of benefit to them educationally. They, by their actions, communicate that they are glorified baby sitters. Even though I have trained those people, I hope for the opportunity someday to sit across the table from them as an advocate for parents. I would say, "I know you know better, because I taught you. I appealed to you to not become what you have become! I warned you that districts will pressure you to be mediocre. And yet, here you are, doing little or nothing for your students educationally. You entertain them all day with frivilous activities when what they need is an education. You do nothing for them and then blame their lack of progress on THEM, saying they have plateaued.  Shame on you!"

So sad.


Anna said...

what about the parents that know there has to be something better than glorified babysitting, YET are talked down to by the educational and medical community for working with the child at home. I dont feel qualified to home school my child, but didnt feel that at this moment in time I had any other choice.(I know, HUGE can of worms)

Anonymous said...

This post encourages and steps on my feet. I remember exactly why I brought my daughter, a person with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, home to home educate. She was being warehoused in the school. She spent a majority of her day in the behavior support classroom, an environment of disrespect, where she was supposed to be "learning." Some days all she did was play games with her para professional. I realized I could put my time, talents and treasures into lawyers and fights with the school to force them to provide her with free and appropriate education or I could put my time, talents and treasures into her.

My daughter is no longer in my home. She left on her 18th birthday. She didn't have to follow our rules, hang out with the people who fostered her success. She was her own agent! She was an adult. She is an addict. And, while I never gave up on her developmental disability, emotionally I have given into her addiction. I can no longer foresee a time when she is not managed by drugs and alcohol. How can a brain with poor executive functioning choose health when neurotypical addicts cannot? She is not safe.

How dare I? I ask myself all the time... and the only answer I can come up with is that I owe the rest of my family an environment of transformational love. I have an almost overwhelming desire to move and change my cell phone number. Instead, I call her at her locked treatment facility on Sunday. I tell her I am glad she was sober for one more week. I encourage her continued cooperation. And, I pray. I give her as little emotional energy as I can... and save what I have for the rest.