Wednesday, July 25, 2007
A Stepford Life
It seems like some people expect children with disabilities to be better behaved, have fewer outbursts, or be better disciplined than the average child. I’ve written on this subject previously in a blog entry on compliance. In that entry, I focused on the classroom and how children with disabilities were held, in my opinion, to higher standards than their non-disabled peers. But I’m seeing it more and more in other settings also.
On my daughter’s school bus – a bus which transports only children with disabilities – the children are expected to stay in their seats and face forward. Many of the children are harnessed in so they can’t move, but for the ones that aren’t, the bus driver and aide frequently yell at the children to sit down and face forward. Have you ever seen the school bus for children without disabilities? Kids are moving all around, leaning across the aisles, yelling to their friends, playing on their computers, and throwing paper balls. The bus driver on that bus just turns her radio up louder.
In the grocery store, I’ve seen shoppers glance in the direction of a toddler who is whining or throwing a fit over something he can’t have. But, let a toddler with Downs Syndrome do that, and the glances become a little more intense – a look that says, “Why didn’t you just leave THAT child at home?”
In the group home in which my oldest daughter lives, the staff often complains about how grumpy their charges are, how they don’t smile or laugh much. Well, if I was told when to eat, what to eat, when to shower and dress, and when to go to bed, I’m not sure I would be happy and bubbly all the time either.
Just because our children have disabilities, it does not mean they don’t have feelings and emotions. I have bad days when I just want to be left alone. My kids have bad days when they just want to be left alone. People with disabilities should not be held to any higher standard than people without disabilities. However, given what a lot of people with disabilities have to deal with on a day to day basis, I’m surprised they are not more rebellious than they are. I bet I would be.
I’m not a Stepford parent and I don’t want any of my children, with or without disabilities, to be Stepford children.