Friday, January 16, 2015

"Two Different Worlds" - a guest post by my daughter

Today I'm featuring a guest post from my daughter, Allison.  She wrote and presented this speech for her Grade 11 English class a couple of months ago, and it contains a message I think we would all benefit from hearing.





Two Different Worlds


It would seem that we in Kingston are doing a lot to support and encourage people with special needs in our community. We have Best Buddies, Special Olympics, and a number of other programs designed to help people with disabilities feel appreciated. These programs are well-intentioned and do achieve their intended purpose. But they also separate people into two groups: “special needs people” and “non-special needs people.” It’s almost like there are two separate worlds.

It’s often the same at school. Special needs students have their own buses, their own programs, their own lunch tables and sports teams and activities. This can lead to us subconsciously thinking that they are all the same.

In reality, this is simply not true. There are many different types of disabilities, such as autism, Down’s syndrome, learning disabilities, and many more. All of us, whether we have a diagnosis or not, have our own personality and interests and strengths and weaknesses. It’s about as difficult to find a common thread between the students in a special needs classroom as it would be in any other classroom. 

Society often views people with disabilities as they view small children: as friendly, harmless, entertaining beings. Though we do a good job of being kind, we often fail to show interest in taking them seriously and in understanding their deepest feelings. Or in giving them a chance to achieve beyond what anyone expects.

It’s like there is a barrier separating “normal” people from special needs people. It’s time to break down the barrier. It’s time to look past the diagnosis and view everyone as simply a person. It’s time for greater inclusion in schools and youth groups and all other community programs. It’s time that we stop saying “they” and start saying “we”. 

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If you'd like to read more of Allison's excellent writing, I recommend you check out her blog novel, Poor Girl, Rich Girl, which she wrote for a Grade 8 project.


8 comments:

  1. Well said, Allison. You are one articulate young lady. I think you have a good point. Special services for people with special needs are often handled "separately," It would be interesting to explore more ways to provide those services in a more integrated fashion. Where I live in Turkey, it's very sad. Minimal services are provided, and most special needs people simply stay home or are in institutions.

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  2. WOW, Allison, what an amazing post!! Great job, and thanks so much for sharing. As a mom of special needs children, this is a perspective I have never thought of, and I completely agree, there is a lot of segregation in schools and in the community. Something to think about, for sure!! Many blessings to you, and would love to read more of your posts!! You take after your mom, who is also a gifted writer!

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  3. Well said, Allison. Having a diagnosis doesn't mean someone is not just like a person without a diagnosis, because we're all just people. Thanks for pointing out where we can break down barriers between us.

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  4. Thanks for being my guest, Allison! You have great insights into this subject. I'm sure your words have been greatly appreciated by everyone who has read them today. XO

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  5. Thank you for your kind words. This is something I feel very passionate about and I am glad to be able to share my thoughts with you.

    Allison

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  6. Great post, Allison. Insightful, positive and enriching the lives of all who read it. Thank you.

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  7. Thank you for this guest post, Allison (and Jeannie too). It reminds me of my outrigger paddling group - there are four legally blind people who paddle with us (one who is completely blind) and several special needs people. Our coach just treats everybody the same, and so do the other paddlers. When two teams went to Burnaby yesterday to race, three of the blind paddlers and three special needs people were among the 24 people who went. The coach mixed the two teams up so that there were people of differing abilities in both of the boats (I am a beginner and some of the others have a couple of years experience). We all had such fun together - not only in the race (which was hard work) but also in the van on the way to and from Victoria to Burnaby. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time - my ribs are sore today (from both the laughing and the paddling). Thanks for breaking down some of the barriers in your writing, Allison. Keep it up!!

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    1. Thank you! That group sounds like a lot of fun. Hope you're having a good time in PEI.

      Allison

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