Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Jul 18
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by Doug Goldberg

My entire childhood all I ever heard from adults was to “be your own man”.  I was quoted brilliant words of inspiration by the likes of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, such as:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” (Henry David Thoreau) 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Or better yet, in the immortal words of Mothers everywhere, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?”

If so much time and attention is spent telling children all over the world to be their own person why do we contradict ourselves when it comes to children with special needs?  Is it for us, or is it for them?  It is most definitely for us and it is unfair.  The world needs people who challenge society’s norms.  It wasn’t too long ago that people thought the world was flat or that the Earth was the center of the universe.  All of these concepts were challenged by one person who could think bigger than everyone else around them.  That one person that has:

  1. The ability to think beyond the scope of others; and
  2. The ability to handle the pressure and controversy their ideas evoke in others. 

Well there it is.  Many children with special needs have strengths beyond our wildest dreams and our able to see the bigger picture.  Unfortunately, most children with special needs are not able to handle the pressure and controversy their ideas evoke in others.  People are scared by what they don’t understand!  Take a minute to watch the following Autism awareness commercial and you will see what I mean:

That was one of the best awareness commercials I have ever seen and I need to thank @autismfather for posting it.  What it taught me is we need to practice what we preach.  If children with special needs can’t stand up for themselves then we need to stand up for them.  If not, we might miss out on the next Mona Lisa, Empire State Building, alternative energy or worse yet a cure for cancer.  Who knows where life will take us but I for one like the idea that there are people out there creating “whales” and I would like to foster that independence not crush it.

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One Response to “Be Your Own Person, Unless You Have Special Needs”

  1. My son produces reams of art like this…in many colors, though he prefers black ink, in many different patterns. He had a period of time where he would fade out the scribbles from one corner to the next, another where all the pictures were cross hatched like linen, and now it is more like a game of pick up sticks. He loves these pictures and wants me to save each one…on a typical weekend at home he will churn out 40 or 50 of them. I admittedly don’t save them all, but I do save most of them. Especially the ones that, for reasons I cannot explain, are very beautiful. It is not your typical art from a ten year old boy…but neither are his paintings with their instinctive and delicate use of color and placement, or his ceramics with the whimsical faces he puts on everything, or his photography with his unique composition. No one taught him to do these things…his father and I are not artistic and it was only very recently and at a new school that anyone but us recognized the beauty in his work. Teaching him that it is work and real art and not just “scribble scrabble” has been hard because he knows he doesn’t draw trees and houses and rockets like the other boys…but finally he is thinking of himself as an artist and it is giving him some self-confidence in his ideas that he was missing. Now I just need to re-mortgage the house to keep him paper and writing utensils. He used up 60 pens last month, 2 boxes of pencils, a box of crayons, a palette of paints, several notebooks of paper, five special watercolor paper notebooks and 3 tubes of high quality watercolor paint and attended a six week ceramics course. OMG. He also got one of our old film cameras for his birthday…he is so excited but I think paying for the film and developing is coming out of his birthday money!
    Anyway…thank you for this…I loved it.

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