I work with kids with special needs. They have a special place in my heart. I may not be a teacher but I am an educator. It breaks my heart to see teachers, those who have invested their life in helping children, be unwilling to help kids with special needs.
Our class participates with the rest of the general ed classes during p.e. This week one of the p.e. activities was a game similar to hot potato. We were supposed to break the kids up into groups of four or five and we had that. The teacher that was in charge of the activity came over and wanted to add more kids to our group when we already had the largest group. We told her that we already had six kids and she pointed at one of our more severe students and said, "Yeah, but I'm not counting him. He has issues." Then she walked away!
I was flabbergasted. I could not believe that an adult, one in a prominent position, would point a child out in such a demeaning matter and in front of ALL the other kids. Yes, that little boy does have issues. But guess what, he's still a child. He is still a student. He MATTERS. He may not be able to do everything that the other kids do but that's why we as aides are there.
Another thing that I have noticed is that regular ed teachers like to separate our kids from the rest. Whenever we break into groups they like to keep our kids together instead of putting one child in with a group of regular ed kids. Doing this would serve two purposes, it would allow our kids to socialize and it allows regular education kids to interact with those with disabilities, making it less scary and foreign for both parties involved.
I really, truly, believe that before you can be certified to teach you should be required to spend time working in a classroom with kids who have special needs. I don't mean just a couple of hours. I mean a couple of weeks. Children with special needs are just like those that aren't; They are all different. You can have a class that has a child who has very slight learning disabilities working alongside a child that is non verbal.
I understand that working with children with special needs is a calling, however, just because you become a general education teacher does not mean that you will not be in contact with children who have special needs. You may be asked to have a child mainstream in your class. You may have a child in your class who has not been diagnosed.
No child, no matter how big their "issues" should be pointed out and told that they don't count, especially when it is a teacher doing the pointing. I truly believe that if more was taught about special education to all teachers that a) some people might find a new calling in life and b) our schools would improve because our teachers would have been educated about a population they might not always be in contact with.
Every child counts. And for those of us that work with those with disabilities, it is up to us to educate others so that children the world over will be accepted and values, disability or no disability.