I'm seething right now, and was going to write a long angry diary about how wronged I am by the world and aren't I oppressed by the system and boo-hoo, poor me.
Instead, I will posit a question, in the hopes of generating a discussion. I truly welcome your opinion.
Sometimes, I get too worked up about things and think that I and only I am right about certain issues. I was recently "talked down off a ledge" by a high school guidance counselor (Thank Goodness for good counselors) about my son's performance at school and I realized after reflection that I had kind of gone off the rails.
Now I'm pondering if I am perhaps doing it again with a different child. So, without further ado...
Special needs children are as unique as all children, except more so.
I believe that children with autism are especially unique, because their disorder manifests itself in so many ways.
Imagine there is a child who might not be developmentally ready to, for instance, tell time due to a confusion of the nature of time.
That same child, especially an autistic one, might be a genius at geometry or algebra or calculus or physics. Who knows?
However, in the field of special needs education, their goal is to prepare these children to enter the workforce. Time and money skills are heavily practiced. Over and over again, every day. For years.
What happens if a child is not developmentally ready for time skills? Or perhaps, just really doesn't care? Should we force that child to have time skills as a goal on an IEP from age three until age eighteen? Please keep in mind that IEP goals are limited, so having that goal for their whole educational career means something else is not attempted, or learned.
It leads to a real conundrum. We must prepare them for the workforce (even if we strongly suspect that barring a miracle they will never enter the workforce) at the expense of developing other talents or interests? Or should we focus on probing what the child's strengths are, and trying to develop them so that this particular child might have a fulfilling life? Some Special Needs children grow up and work at the grocery store as baggers, and I know there are some who truly love their job and independence. But what about the child who doesn't want that, who would be terrible at it or hate it?
What do we do with those children? Should we force them to learn a skill (telling time) that they don't get and hate at the expense of all else?
I think it's pretty obvious from the way I'm framing the question how I feel about the matter.
What do you think?