Friday, September 12, 2014

A Fundamental Right


      People with disabilities have the same fundamental right to live and participate in this world as much as the non-disabled.  This does not mean that they should be given special treatment because of their disability. It simply means that if a disabled person is able to carry out activities in the home, school, community, and in the workplace with or without reasonable accommodations and/or modifications then they should be allowed to do so. Merit should always go to the best qualified candidate. 

   Savvy special educators take the time to get to know each of their students. When it comes to educating them, they take into account the whole child. Aside from academic and physical needs an astute special educator will take into consideration each students need to have skill in self-determination and self-advocacy.
     Self-determination is a person's individual characteristics that lead them to make choices and decisions based on their own personal likes and preferences.  Self-determination also helps the individual to become goal oriented and to self-regulate their own actions related to this goal. In many cases the more a person wants something, the more he/she will work toward this goal regardless of a disability. Special educators  help students attain realistic goals. Many times these goals allow students to reach for their dream. Have you ever noticed that uninhibited, little children always reach for their dreams blurting out things like, "I'm going to be a fireman, or a princess, or an astronaut"?  How many parents run out to stores to get them toys and dress-up clothes to help them play out their dream! It is my belief that dreams can become a reality with the right support and guidance. Sometimes as a child grows-up dreams need to be tweaked or changed but every child has the fundamental right to participate fully in every aspect of life and reach for their own personal dreams.
   Self-advocacy is one of the best skills that a parent or educator can equip a child with. A child that has the courage to speak up for himself will be heard. When I hold (IEP) Individual Education Plan meetings, I always invite the student. I tell the student, "This is your education. You deserve the right to say what you want and to ask for what you need." One of my all time favorite IEP meetings was for a young teen with asperger's syndrome. The student wanted it written in his IEP that he could chew gum during tests and quizzes because it helped him to concentrate. A small request that made a big difference to him. This was added as an accommodation in his IEP. Gum was always on hand for this child during tests and quizzes and therefore this child was able to sail right through them. It was a seemingly insignificant adjustment that made a huge difference for this student.
     In this great world filled with opportunity after opportunity those with and without disability are all on equal playing fields when it comes to the fundamental right of living a complete life at home, in school, in the community, and in the workplace. 

Parent and Educator Links:
Educational games:

11 Sample Education BYOT Polices to Help You Create Your Own:

Daily Book review:
The Princess Fables written by Marc Clark. I first met author Marc Clark on Twitter. I instantly fell in love with the idea behind his book, The Princess Fables.  So I ordered it. I have not been disappointed with my purchase. In fact, I love The Princess Fables!  Marc Clark wrote eleven inspirational stories for girls who dream of becoming a princess. Each princess finds herself on a journey of self-discovery. Each princess learns true values along her journey. I love that these stories were inspired by Marc's daughter. Since my daughters are grown, I plan on using The Princess Fables with my special education students who dream big and sometimes need a lot of encouragement to get over everyday challenges. The Princess Fables will help guide me as I give my students the gift of self-determination. As I told Marc, I still do dream of becoming a princess and I dream that all of my students will achieve their highest aspirations too, so this book is perfect for me and the princesses in my classroom!  

PS. Incidentally, I also love the delicate pen and ink drawings by illustrator Eric Hosford.  The classic look of 19th century fairy tales makes The Princess Fables a real treasure.

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