Friday, December 16, 2016

If Only #FridayReflections

I am again joining #FridayReflections over at Everyday Gyaan.

The prompt today is "If you could re-take a class from your school or uni days, which would it be?"  I want to look at this prompt from another angle.

I wish that there had been a different educational world for my brother in law with autism.

I remember well, my first experience with special education, and how far we have come in the last 50 years.

I started elementary school in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in the United States, in September of 1957.  One day, and it may have been in second grade, we had to move down to the "special ed" room for several hours.  It was a scary place.

It was located in the basement of the elementary school.  The "special ed" students (our name for them used a word totally inappropriate today - a word that began with the letter "R"), were isolated from the rest of the student body.  I never did see them again.  I barely knew they existed.

Those children, isolated in my school's basement, had few rights in education, as did "Bil", my brother in law, who was born in 1958.  Not until 1975 was the "Education of Handicapped Children Act" passed.  By 1990, this law had assumed its current name, IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act. 

But these laws were too late for my brother in law.  I can wish that I could go back in time and bring what exists now to those times.

There was no modern Child Find when Bil started school in the early 1960's.  Earlier, when he was a toddler, there was no alarm over the fact that Bil was not speaking by the age of two.  Rather, my mother in law was blamed for his deficits.  She "spoiled" him, her doctor claimed, when he pointed to items and grunted.  He threw tantrums when he wasn't understood. He didn't speak until he was five.

In today's world, his autism would have been recognized at an early age, hopefully.  He would have been entitled to educational services through the age of 21 (after 21, what happens is a long, and not necessarily pleasant story, to be told at another time).  We'll never know what Bil might have been capable of, had he received the proper interventions.

But, as a wise autism advocate once told me, we can not live in the past. We have to work with the present day Bil, to make sure he has the best quality of life available to him.

But still...I dream....if only.  If only, in life, there could be do-overs.

Come over to Everyday Gyaan, link up if you wish, and read some other Friday Reflections.

1 comment:

  1. I felt so awful reading about what your MIL and BIL went through. I can still see that happening in some parts of India today.


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