Thursday, May 14, 2009

Junk Drawers

I have a junk drawer – actually two of them. They’re filled with bits and pieces of my life through the years. A roll of ribbon, probably no more than 3 inches. A kitchen utensil with a plastic handle that I almost melted through by setting it on the edge of pan. A Barbie doll head – just the head. Old and broken jewelry. A small art project made by a child who is now 16 years older. Several black plastic knives and forks, remnants of a 40ish birthday party.

They are all things that seemed for some reason at the time too good to just throw away. I imagined I would have a use for them sometime in the future. But I never have. The drawer just keeps getting fuller until the day I decide to just throw everything away.

Do the rest of you do this? My school district does.

Children with special needs, especially the ones with the most significant needs, are put in my school district’s junk drawer. Their junk drawer is a classroom, usually tucked far away from the non-disabled children, and often all the drawers are stacked together in separate buildings.

The school staff has no idea what to do with these children, but they feel bad just throwing them away. So like my 3 inches of ribbon and my old and broken jewelry, our children with special needs are collected, their drawer closed while the staff tries to think of some use for them.

But they never do. Some years later, usually after the children have been in the junk drawer for 18 to 19 years, they are thrown out, the same way I clean out my kitchen junk drawer – only to start the collecting all over again.

1 comment:

Queenbuv3 said...

This is so true. My son just had an "evaluation" done at his out of district school with staff from his old school to see if he can use an assistive technology device to communicate. It has been about 5 years since these people worked with him and they walked into his classroom and immediately expected to see his failure to progress. They had read an inadequate speech eval from 2 years ago that made him look stupid. They couldn't understand how he would be able to use a technical device if he wasn't already using PECS (uses them for task schedule but doesn't like them for communication). UNTIL... They saw him doing his work. And the teacher explained that he had picked up another students device and was able to use it without any instruction. And that he uses computers. And by the time they left could see he had made a lot of progress since they had worked with him.

They assumed that once he was out of district that he had been sitting in a classroom somewhere twiddling his thumbs because THEY were weren't able to make much progress with him. They assumed he couldn't learn since they had failed him so thoroughly. They assumed he was just wasting away somewhere, out of sight and out of mind. It was so satisfying to see them proved wrong!

His teacher is an angel straight from heaven : ) They tried to throw away my little boy like garbage and he has gone above and beyond their very low expectations. I hope our children keep proving everybody wrong and show them they do not belong in a "junk drawer". God bless : )