Friday, February 19, 2010

Affliction Day

This article below appeared in the Mansfield News Mirror, a Texas newspaper. Before reading it, consider the definition of 'affliction':

af·flic·tion   /əˈflɪkʃən/
1.a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery

I swear, if my school district ever wants to have an 'affliction' day, my child will not be the one that is afflicted. (Notice the non-blindfolded student laughing at the student pretending to be blind in the picture to the right.)


Students Spend Challenging Day

The students at Mansfield High School have experienced learning on a whole new level. The past few days the students in Robyn Russell's Teen Leadership class have been preparing to have an affliction day. The students were blind, deaf or mute. They had to live one day the way a child or adult with disabilities would in an educational atmosphere.

The students were given tasks they had to complete with a partner who did not have a disability. One of the tasks was for each student to go down the hall and get a drink of water. Many of the blind students had their hands out to feel for walls and depended on their partner for guidance.

"I was very disoriented while walking through the halls," said senior Ryan Collins. "I have been walking these halls the last four years but as soon as the blindfold went on I had no idea where I was in the school."

Another activity was to color a picture of a tiger. First, the teacher asked the students to write their names on the paper. Most of them ended up being sideways or upside down. Next, they were given two markers and told to color a picture.

"I felt lost," said Shayla Blackwell, a sophomore. "I didn't even know what I was coloring let alone what color markers I had in my hands."

The students also had to complete a workout routine. The majority felt dizzy and embarrassed. All the students believed even in the short period of time they were disabled that one of their other senses became stronger.

Affliction day gave students a small insight into the life of a disabled individual. The tasks they completed were simple to those without disabilities, but they could tell that life would be much more difficult with a handicap. The students got to experience a few of the challenges having a disability creates, but there are many more such as discrimination in employment, higher insurance and for teenagers a social status that can be difficult to overcome.

Many of the students said walking in another person's shoes is the best way to experience their life.


mommy~dearest said...

Yeeeeaaah... I have issues with this for a few reasons. Didn't even think of the title "Affliction Day", but thanks for that one. :)

So the day is spent with these "temporary disabilities". And they have to do these tasks, which seem ridiculous anyway. Coloring a picture of a tiger?

Did they let the students learn compensatory strategies? How about trying to color the tiger, but then showing them how others can experience art (or music, etc) in a tactile way, using textures and the like?

Nope. Just, "Here, color this tiger and see how much you suck."

Can't hear? Wow. That must really suck. We're not going to show you how to communicate otherwise, just wanted you to know how much it sucks.

Maybe they should cover the insides of sweathirts with sandpaper, and shine LED lights into student's eyes- they may experience what it's like to be Autistic.

Sorry about the rant...

Anonymous said...

It's this kind of simulation that gives people the idea that having a disability is really tragic. Of course you're going to struggle if you're suddenly blind or deaf or whatever.
Why not learn from actual disabled people about what life is like with a disability?

Azaera said...

Ridiculous. I hardly have any words for this. Why don't they bring in a child or a person with a disability and the children can ask them questions, and they can give some real perspective to the students. Sigh..

Azaera said...

Okay, I tried to leave a comment and apparently blogger ate it because it gave me an error. Anyway, I think this is ridiculous. Why don't they bring in someone who is actually disabled and they can ask them questions about what it's like, so the students can get a real perspective on having a disability. Sigh.

Katherine said...

I'm in agreeance with everyone else on this. This is not the right way to raise awareness on disabilities..
The best teachers on learning about living with a disability are no doubtedly from those living with a disability.

Guest speakers such as Lorin Nicholson make fabulous teachers on the subject. Lorin visited my sons school a few years ago here in Brisbane, Australia. My son came home in awe of this amazing human being. Here is his website, should you wish to take a look...

I guess though we have to show some forgiveness to those that don't know any better. There are some people in our communities who have never had anything to do with people whom have disabilities and are extremly naive in their thinking. Maybe your feelings & concerns about this need to be brought to the attention of the school, with suggestions of what would work better.

The impact of 'Affiction Day'(horrid name) will make no long term impact on the students. They will forget!
But to listen & learn through the experiences of others ... hearing of both their struggles and their triumphs ... may make a lasting impression just as it did for my son!