Please Use the Side Entrance

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Let’s talk about middle school. Let’s talk about Daniel’s upcoming middle school. Let’s talk about arguments I’ve heard that support Daniel’s upcoming middle school. Let’s talk about how you can tell the pervasive paradigm of segregation.

It’s easier for the teachers if your child uses the same entrance that the other students riding the Special Ed transportation use. Let’s ignore, completely, the fact that the other students must go in the side entrance. Let’s ignore starting any disabled child’s day that rides the bus in segregation. Let’s just please focus on the fact that it’s “easier for the teachers” as a reason why MY CHILD would be segregated. Apparently an INDIVIDUALIZED Education Plan means what’s easier for teachers. (This was not made by the school personnel or anyone connected to the district.)

This is likely the reason the school wants to do it too, but they’ll probably be smart enough not to say it. Actually, with my choice of words, they won’t get a chance to say it.. But that’s because I believe in leaving no holes in my approach to getting my child’s needs met. But then, what does that say? That the needs of the teachers are greater than the needs of the students? The students who are NOT adults who already need INDIVIDUALIZED supports and services. Or is it that the able bodied’s needs are greater than that of the disabled person’s needs? At least on some level, even if not conscious, this is where things start.

And the story goes, yes, it’s more difficult on resources to retrofit individual supports when you’re already excluding. If the school was actually practicing inclusion, then the resources would already be allocated to supporting what each student individually needs. This includes drop off and pick up.

Assumptions that the general education students’ entrance would be too stressful and intimidating. I know I’ve heard similar things stated.. But question to these things… Is there a separate entrance for Walmart or Target or the grocery store that only disabled people must take? No? Think that would cause some civil suits? Yep! Well, then, why is it ok for a school’s Special Education department to do it? (Yes, I recognize that many of the place I listed are stressful to autistic people due to sensory sensitivities, but it is your choice if you want to go and if you want to go in a separate entrance, it is not forced on you.)

So let’s go back and stop the ignoring all the other disabled students that aren’t my child. What is the message sent by teachers for all those students to the rest of the student body? What’s the message sent by teachers to the rest of the school staff? At what point do they all see these kids as not equal? And how does that teach that all people, including those with disabilities, deserve the same respect and dignity?

And how is not teaching them how to handle stressful and intimidating situations a good thing? I don’t know about all of you, but it’s been far worse having to teach myself how to handle things to stop avoiding. I’d much rather be given those skills and healthy ways to equip myself for stressful, intimidating situations.

What message is it sending to the disabled students? You are different, you are not the same, you are not equal. Not all students will get this message, but plenty will. And this is inherently damaging.

A panel presentation I was on a few years ago talked about how so many disabled college students rejected the notion they had a disability and didn’t receive disability services. Many of these either came in frantic at midterms or ended up dropping out. Parents called trying to get the disability services coordinators to serve their sons and daughters. This is what happens when you separate students and don’t talk about their support needs with them.



***My apologies of this seems disjointed. It’s the way it’s coming out in my head as I think about all the problems a separate entrance shows.

Photo by seier+seier

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