I (and Genius Fish) am mentioned in an article on Bullying! Click on the below link!
I once read that people with disabilities tend to be rebellious.
I’ll admit it — I HATE SCHOOL. I really detest studying. I feel caged in an imaginary bubble. I hate sitting in class and listening to lectures for over an hour. I get annoyed by classmates that basically repeat what they read as if they have experienced it. I hate teachers who promote students who memorize page after page of text instead of praising students who think outside of the text. I hate sitting in classrooms where teachers cold call on me. I feel like professors can live in a bubble world within words and pages of research. I especially hate exams and assignments that are asking me to repeat what I was taught.
I love experiencing the world. Touching everything around me. Smelling different scents. Smiling at strangers. Hugs. Tasting incredible foods. Living on the edge. Experimenting –>to learn everything in life. I am a searcher of experiencing everything. I want to live and breathe and learn with all senses.
I love to daydream… especially in class. When I attended UCDavis, I hated the bubble academic world. I wanted to experience freedom and see,feel, taste, hear and smell the world. Instead when attending college, I was in a classroom learning about professors’ research on developing countries and humanitarian issues. These professors never actually grew up in a developing country and were lecturing on the issues of living there. At times they would make out as if a developing country was backwards because of the country’s culture was different from the west. I would read countless of articles of statistics. Yet, none contained human stories and or images. It was a bubble, which I felt sucked the life out of me. I had to flee this terrible entrapment. I did. I double my course load and left my junior year.
After UCDavis, I lived for the first time. I traveled the world. I was able to release all senses to gain knowledge of how the world works and how much I love living and breathing everyday. However, it dawned on me that I should probably return to school and receive a Master’s degree because I wanted to change the world.
I went to the University of Edinburgh. Once again, I lived and breathed a different world. Yet, when attending classes, I hated it. The feeling of being chained came back. The papers, reading, ridiculously long lectures, exams… dear god, I needed to escape. I decided to leave the bubble on a research project. A project that would expose the world to a real issue, not on a theory. I went to Guatemala for children who live in poverty and attend school. I learned so much within two weeks of being there than one year in school. When I completed my research, I had to start writing the dissertation. The chains came back on.
Finally, I was free again after the submitting the paper. I was able to witness life around me once again. Yet, I am stuck once again. I am stuck at work (school district) and school(another master degree). I feel trap and unable to be or feel free. I feel like I am being forced to become a follower and not a changer. Suffocation 24/7 to squeeze all of me to fit into a box. So what should I do? Tame the rebellious side? Or start a change?
According to UNICEF, 200 million children (10% of the world’s young people) are born with a learning or physical disability or become disabled before the age of 19. That’s 200 million children today who are targeted by abusers and become victims of violence. Violence that stems from stigmas, negative traditional beliefs and pure ignorance. This continues since there is a lack of social support, education opportunities, work opportunities and community. Communities tend to further isolate the families that have learning or physical disabled children since the children are seen as a black omen. Some reasoning stems from cultural and religious beliefs that if a child is born with a disability, it is due to a sin that was a previous incarnation or family members have sinned, such as the parents.
The issue of stigma and prejudice towards those with a learning or physical disability is worldwide. Those who are considered disabled are at least 1.7 times more likely to become a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse at home, the community, institutional settings, and in the office than non-disabled peers. The violence increases the already existing social, educational and economic marginalization. In return, learning or physical disabled children are more likely to never fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Instead, they become outcasts by their communities and increases their chances of never attending school or becoming homeless (1/3rd of street children have a learning or physical disability).
Sadly, violence towards those with learning or physical disabilities is hardly ever discussed. It is an issue that is usually kept under the carpet. In return, without the discussion the number of victims will remain or increase. It is time to have an open dialogue on such a serious matter. For there are many innocent children who are being killed for being different. This needs to end now.
Have you ever heard someone say “Opps…I’m Dyslexic,” when the individual made a mistake? I hear this at least once a month by teachers, professors (who teach Special Education), students, parents, friends and family. However, none of these individuals are Dyslexic. Instead the line is used as a self-put down. It’s a comment that can be offensive to those with a learning disability, such as my students or myself.
When bringing the nature of this statement into a conversation, people just say that I cannot take a joke. In return, anger begins to boil. How can someone just say take it as a joke? In reality, my students suffer on a daily basis for being a different learner. How would you like if someone who did not have HIV joked about being HIV positive? Not so funny now is it?
The problem is those with learning disabilities do not show any visual deformity; therefore, can stay hidden with a heavy invisible stigma, which can cause low self-confidence. It also allows the individual to stay hidden to fit in with others. When someone has a learning disability hears ”Opps…I’m Dyslexic,” it reinforces a belief of being incompetent. In return, people like my students and myself, stay silent and try not to show any offense.
So next time, you or someone say ”Opps…I’m Dyslexic,” please spread this posting. Let us stop the hurting of my students and others.
Also stop any jokes about those who suffer with Dyslexia… like below:
Instead of laughing and making jokes … think of the below images instead.
To sum up –> Being Dyslexic is not a funny matter and should not be used as a punchline.
In July 2013, I wrote a handwritten letter to myself. This particular letter was then placed in an envelope and sealed. On the front of the envelope it says , “Open the last Monday in October (or in case of emergency). ” I completely forgot about the letter till now.
It is a personal letter; however, I believe by posting the unedited letter, it makes it even more powerful to read and digest. Here it goes…
Chloe, you are incredibly passionate and empathetic to everyone, especially to your students. Just like these students, you know and can relate to their challenges. As well as, the importance of teachers doing their best to support . In other words, do not ever become a burnt out teacher. It is also important to not assume that all students feel the same about their disability. Lastly, make sure to notice that focusing on the tiny details are important to reach the goals of the class.
Beyond this advice, don’t ever forget that a label is only a label and it will never be who you are. Furthermore, don’t ever allow someone to dismiss or not hear your voice. Use your experiences to empower those who are silent. Just like you wished for yourself when you were small.
This blog entry is not to devalue or lessen the work that teachers do in a challenging educational setting. It is also not aimed at providing a quick fix for the situation, its simply reminding “burnt-out” teachers to “check-in” with their students and themselves.
My apologies… it’s been awhile since I last wrote on “Genius Fish”. There is a simple explanation: I LOVE MY STUDENTS. With such love for each of my students, it can be emotionally taxing to the body. Everyday I am thinking how can I master the perfection to make each student go beyond their abilities and prove to their teachers that they are more intelligent than how they might be seen in their class.
At this point, you might be wondering why would the students need to prove to their teachers that they are intelligent? Shouldn’t every teacher believe in their students?
My students say no.
Within two months into the school year, 90% of my students have told me that their teacher “hates me and picks on me all the time”. My students will even cry when talking about their teachers. Overall, the students have been experiencing bullying by their teachers.
You see … my students are seen as the classroom bullies or the students who perform below their grade level by their teachers. The teachers are frustrated with the student’s behavior and have been calling their parents to report how bad their child is. This is then followed with parents punishing their children and students’ decreasing their respect for their teacher. Overall, it becomes a situation/continuous cycle of the student disliking the classroom, material and teacher.
With the above negative pattern, these students will tend to act out even more in class because they feel like they have no importance in the class and will never be seen in a positive way by their teacher. Thus, they become the label that they feel the teacher has placed on them.
It’s a sad situation. In reality, it might have begun when the student needed attention or help on an assignment, and the teacher failed at modeling the lesson/activity. In return, the student acted out because they were being ignored by their teacher when they needed help. However, once the teacher finally provided the needed attention, it was not the desired attention that the student wanted in the first place. In other words, they do not need a teacher to yell at them with negative comments when they do not understand a given task.
I understand teachers are overwhelmed and overworked. However, it is our job to be role models/leaders/teachers/adults who have compassion to make every single student feel like they are accepted in the classroom. It prevents student x crying about how his/her teacher does not care about him/her and picks on him/her.
It breaks my heart to see or hear teachers call students “stupid” in class. It is unacceptable. Maybe if the teacher took the time or energy to model the assignment, then the students will be able to complete the given task.
Overall, we need to check ourselves if we are being the right role model in each child’s life. In other words, how can we expect students to stop being bullies, if their teachers are bullying them? After all, the students are just coping their teacher’s lesson.
This entry was suppose to discuss the violence on “disabled” children; however, a couple of days ago, a conversation occurred and I need to talk about it. As someone who has been labeled “disabled”, when I hear another person talking about someone who is “disabled” it can be a real challenge. Let me describe how it feels.
Imagine you are in a middle of an acupuncture session. You have needles everywhere. Then there is a fire alarm. You cannot move because if you move, you will most likely push the needles into your body further and will cause serious pain. So what do you do? Remain there in the most discomfort, and hope it is just a false alarm.
This is pretty accurate on how I feel whenever I hear someone who is not “disabled” talking about someone who is “disabled”.
Well, the recent discomfort was when I heard a parent speak about his child who is “disabled”. Let me first start off by saying, I respect the sharing that the parent did and appreciate his complete honesty on how he feels about his child. It is also important to note that my view on the situation may differ from yours. This is a challenging situation to discuss but I hope that what I write transfers to others as positive advice.
Here it goes…
I was sitting with a parent and he began talking about his child being “disabled”. He said the hardest part was hearing the news and accepting that his child could never be perfect — he started to tear up while discussing it. He then further said he went through the same mourning stages as if he lost his child for about three years.
I have heard a lot about parents finding out their child is “disabled” and going through mourning stages. I can understand the parents sadness as a fear of what will happen to my child and my child’s future for being different than the normal children. This is very understandable. However, when a parent mourns because the child will “never be perfect” because of the child’s “disability”, I have to stop and try extremely hard not to say anything to the parent.
By saying the child will never be perfect, the person is communicating a strong belief that the child is less of another child and that expectations are lowered. By saying the child will never be perfect and mourning over it — that parent’s ego is clearly hurt. Why mourn as if your child is dead?
I must be missing something but if the child is living and breathing and differs from societies norms, why must there be mourning?
Then I also have to ask, if the parent feels this way still till today — how is that impacting the child? If a parent does not hold the same expectations as if the child was not “disabled”, how will the child feel about their own self-confidence? Better yet, who will believe in them?
Now, imagine a “disabled” child in class. Let’s call this kid Tommy. Tommy attends elementary school with a “disability”. His parents love him so much but they believe that his dream of becoming a doctor will never come true since he is Dyslexic. His teachers know that he will most likely struggle throughout his education because of his “disability”; therefore, the teachers expect less from him. Every time Tommy brings up that he wants to be a doctor in his future, people around him do not acknowledge or believe in him. Tommy attends Middle School. Kids start bullying him because he is slow when reading and shy on the playground. Tommy starts feeling a weight of being different on his shoulders. Tommy is starting to experience the stigma. Tommy starts to question his abilities within education. Tommy enters High School. He starts to finally believe that he will never become a Doctor since everyone around him sees him less of a person and an idiot. This is the point where the stigma has swallowed him and he gives up in school and a future of attending college. He starts failing all his classes. His parents are upset but in the back of their minds they believe it’s his dyslexia and that they should not be surprised and accept it. Tommy drops out of school.
The above is a very common situation. Now, let me tell you how this can change.
Tommy’s parents found out that he is Dyslexic. Tommy’s parents did not mourn (they did cry). Instead, Tommy’s parents decided to push Tommy even harder in school and telling him daily that he can became anything as long as he believes in himself. Tommy did not have the greatest teachers in Elementary because they expected less of him, but he believed in his parents’ advice and moral support. Tommy starts attending Middle School. He starts being bullied for being different. Tommy starts to feel the stigma; however, he works hard in school and his parents still believe in him. He attends High School, since his parents have high expectations, Tommy pushes through High School and attends college. The real reason for his success is that someone believed in him and saw him not less, not more, but as a normal person.
The lesson here is that children can pick up on their parents feelings about being different. Sadly, it increases the weight of the stigma much more.
When I was growing up, I did not have teachers who expected the same work as everyone else. I was severely bullied throughout my education. However, I excelled because of my parents. My parents believed in me and held high expectations for me.
If you are a parent, hold the high expectations regardless if the child has a disability and truly believe in your child. It will help your child through the process of carrying a stigma. At the end of the day, a “disabled” child just wants to be like everyone else and have high expectations in life.
So parents, there is no need to mourn over your child because THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR CHILD. It is society that needs to accept that the norm needs to be changed. But something will be wrong with your child if you do not believe in him/her and/or hold the same expectations as if the child was not “disabled”.
I know the situation is a real challenge for parents, and can be emotionally challenging for the parent to see their child suffering because of being different. But just continue loving them and believing in them because you are the key to their success. Furthermore, the home is a place for the child to escape from their stigma and people in society who make the stigma grow.
So parents who are mourning, remove the Kleenex box and hug your child. Tell them you are proud of them and you believe in them.