30 Jul 2015
I was shadowing a student with autism from a Special Day Class (SDC) in a mainstream class for Math subject. The student looked around scanning the faces of all the students surrounding her. With confused and lost eyes the student looked at me and asked: “Am I a special ed student?” She was loud enough to divert the nearby students’ attention towards us. (special ed is short for special education)
All the students sitting around us turned their sharp ears and eyes towards me waiting for the “verdict”.
As much as the question shocked me I managed to control my facial expressions and act casually to answer the question. Here is my answer:
“Yes you are a special ed because you are very special, just like everybody else. There are no two people alike; even brothers and sisters are different! The other reason you are a special ed is that you come here for some subjects, like Math, not all of them. That means you have a special schedule. Besides, in your special day class there is more than one grade. It is a ‘combo‘ class. You get to help your peers in a lower grade. You can teach them things you’ve already learned a year before. Isn’t that great! Even if you happen to become a general ed student, you will remain special, because you have special talents: you play violin, you are a perfect speller, you give great presentations, you are a great performer, and many more! We are all special.”
Suddenly, all students, including her, stopped staring at me and resumed working on their Math problems. They became quiet for a good while.
I believe that the way I’ve answered the question made all the difference. I seemed relaxed, unconcerned.
Find your student’s strengths and emphasize them. Be positive!