Lessons on Inclusion from a Segregated School, Version 2 (from memory, not an exact reproduction of the first one)

Standard

I keep hearing that some disabled people are just too hard to include in regular society. That we have behavior that can’t be tolerated, that nobody will ever put up with the way we look, that there’s nothing we could possibly do, and a lot of other things like that. And I think back to one of the segregated schools I attended.

This one, unlike the others, was not on the grounds of an institution, although it might as well have been. The school did run several group homes, and many students lived in the group homes and were driven to school from there. Many of the other students were on strict behavior programs at home, went to school, and only left the house for segregated day programs. As far as I can tell, the main difference between the life lived by most students there, and an institution, was the distances involved between one part of the institution and another, which were traveled by car instead of on foot. We were still separated from the rest of society the vast majority of the time.

The people at this school were everyone the district didn’t want in its regular schools, as far as I could tell, although there weren’t a lot of purely physically disabled kids there. I don’t know where they all went, since most of them weren’t at regular schools either, but I suspect it had something to do with their insistence on not being lumped in with the “retards”, that over time there was probably a new rule made or something that purely physically disabled (or passing as purely physically disabled) kids had their own schools so they wouldn’t have to be in with the rest of us.

The rest of us included people who as far as I can tell, were everyone else the school system didn’t want in their mainstream classrooms. There were kids there from the psych system. There were kids who were extreme bullies, and who probably bullied normal kids, since bullying disabled kids rarely gets you recognized as doing anything wrong enough to be sent to school with them. There were kids who often got in trouble with the law. There were kids who sexually assaulted other kids. There were kids who were autistic. There were kids who were diagnosed with mental retardation. There were a couple kids with cerebral palsy, and diagnoses of other things too, since without those other diagnoses they’d probably have gone to some school for physically disabled kids. There were kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. There was one kid with narcolepsy. There were kids with Tourette’s or OCD.

It was basically anyone who wasn’t wanted anywhere else. And this school — which was a horrible school, by the way, with almost no good points to it and a lot of illegal things going on, lest I later paint what sounds like a good picture of it — supposedly specialized in the really difficult cases.

I notice something peculiar about this: We were supposedly too difficult for mainstream kids to put up with, but we were somehow not supposed to be too difficult to put up with each other. This is one of the strangest things about segregation to me. Somehow mainstream kids don’t have to put up with us, but we, who supposedly have less people skills, are supposed to figure out how to put up with each other.

The thing is, we did. We had no real choice. We did not always come up with particularly constructive ways to put up with each other, but we did have to come up with ways, nonetheless, because there was no escaping. And I don’t think that non-disabled kids always put up with each other in constructive ways, either, but they do put up with each other. This is not saying we all liked each other, or were all friends, because we weren’t. But we at least tolerated each other, which was more than mainstream kids were ever asked to do for us.

Anyone who thinks this was some kind of utopia for disabled kids, where differences don’t matter, wasn’t there. I was sexually assaulted several times by other students, and then blamed by the teachers for not picking up on the cues that it was about to happen. One time the teachers even found it hilarious and wouldn’t stop laughing about it. Many of the kids teased the kids they called the “retards” or the “special kids”. And while there were a couple teachers who really tried to make a crappy environment work for us, many of the teachers were bigger bullies than all the kids put together, and came up with creative, and probably illegal, punishments for minor infractions. Low expectations were normal there.

But at the same time, something became very clear to me: Unless disabled kids, including kids labeled “socially disabled,” are much, much more innately capable of putting up with each other than non-disabled kids are, then non-disabled kids could have put up with every last one of us, too. If they’d had to. If they hadn’t been encouraged towards a sense of entitlement that they don’t deserve, an entitlement to a life and an education totally free of the ones they consider undesirable.

Because if we were so “distracting” to be in a classroom with, why would we, who were said to be so much more distractable than usual in the first place, have been put in classrooms with each other? If we were so socially incapable, then why would we be expected to do what the “socially skilled” normal kids could not, and find ways of dealing with each other’s presence?

This, of course, extends well beyond kids, and well beyond school (I view school as flawed anyway, for everyone, so I’m not saying much positive about any schools here, just to be clear).

When I got out, I was surprised to see people walking down the street who did not suddenly scream or tic or rock. I was out of place. Many times, other weird people, many of whom had been in the system, would walk up to me, recognizing the look I guess, and start talking, and I’d have a sense of normalcy for awhile. But a lot of the time it was culture shock. Groups of non-disabled teenagers frequently ran up to me and tried to “trick” the “retard”, which is apparently evidence of their very high degree of social skill, or something. I was relieved whenever I saw someone who, by their walk or way of reacting to things or actions, was clearly not a standard-issue person.

But most people either saw me as a walking target or a person to avoid or patronize. The walking target part wasn’t new, but people didn’t really get a chance to avoid each other for being in special ed. We’d have had to have avoided ourselves, for starters, and there was nowhere to go where you could avoid meeting other disabled people. Since the only non-disabled people there were teachers, and a lot of the teachers there weren’t very nice, you wouldn’t even necessarily want to be around solely non-disabled people. Patronizing there came mainly from teachers, not students, although some students of course picked up patronizing from the teachers.

But what I keep coming back to, was we were never allowed a sense of entitlement to not being around each other. That sense of entitlement allows some non-disabled people to view our presence in their world as an optional obstruction to the way things normally are, instead of a part of the way things normally are that they’d better get used to. We had to make concessions for each other all the time, we even had to make concessions to non-disabled people by attending these horrific schools, but non-disabled people were never forced to make any concessions for us, so they view that lack of concessions as something they’re entitled to.

So do some disabled people, I have noticed. Physically disabled people don’t seem to want us in their own segregated schools, and I’ve seen many speak with more horror at being “lumped in with the retarded kids” than at being forcibly segregated in the first place. And many disabled adults, of all kinds, only want some kinds of disabled people, if any, around them.

I’ve talked to autistic adults who manage in the non-autistic work world every day, most of whom were never forcibly segregated, who claim they couldn’t bear being around autistic people who make loud, involuntary noises so all such people just shouldn’t be allowed around them. Now I’ve got as much auditory sensitivity as anyone, but I’m also a loud, involuntary noise-maker at times. Moreover, I was in a school full of autistic people, some of whom had too many noise sensitivities to stand a standard-issue workplace, and somehow we all survived having people there (who were sometimes us, of course, since noise sensitivities and making loud noises are not mutually exclusive) who were out in the courtyard screaming every few minutes, or who squealed and ticced loudly. Not that this prevents me from trying to stop screaming, since I’m aware of noise sensitivities, but I’m under no illusion that people like me are welcome a lot of places until we do figure that one out, and we’re usually the first ones to get thrown out instead of anyone thinking that both sets of a people have a right to be in any particular place and there needs to be compromise.

Likewise, I’ve seen horrible fights break out between people who have particular receptive language problems and people who have particular expressive language problems, both expecting the other to totally capitulate to their needs or else. I kept thinking, this is like listening to a bunch of signing Deaf people take offense to the idea of using interpreters around blind people while blind people insisted on signing Deaf people speaking, while a bunch of deafblind people (like, in this analogy, me, since I don’t always write in ways people can understand and can’t always understand some people’s styles of writing) sat around wondering why people couldn’t just quit taking offense at everyone else’s areas of difficulty and start looking for solutions.

Meanwhile, people with assorted receptive language problems were telling people with assorted expressive language problems to “try harder.” People with assorted expressive language problems were becoming offended and insulted at even an honest description of what reading their writing was like for people who had serious trouble reading it, and insisting that other people must make the effort no matter the cost. People with receptive language problems were in turn becoming offended and insulted at equally honest descriptions of what trying to write in standard English was like for those who had trouble doing it, and insisting that other people must make the effort no matter the cost. The idea of interpreters was rejected by nearly everyone as simply impossible, mainly apparently so they could go back to fighting. I can imagine a lot of problems happening at my school, but not that one.

We didn’t have the option of running off in a huff to some other school. Pretty much, that was the last stop for people schools didn’t want. Any further from that and we’d be in the kind of institutions that have a school somewhere on the grounds, rather than the ‘distributed institution’ that most of us lived in (nominally ‘in the community’, but, only nominally). And the kids weren’t the ones who made those decisions, anyway. Therefore, we had to learn to at bare minimum put up with each other, one way or another. An attitude that I find way too lacking out here, because most people have the “out” of saying “No [insert kind of person here] allowed.”

It seems to me, sometimes, that there were things more “inclusive” about the segregated environments I was in, than the supposedly-integrated ones I encounter in the outside world. There’s this sense, out here, that non-disabled people, and maybe a few of the elite among disabled people, own the world and the rest of us are intruders in it, who must be on our best manners at all times to keep from getting tossed out. Meanwhile, non-disabled people can often get away with, well actually murder is one thing they do often get away with towards us, but even lesser things too like severe bullying… and somehow we’re still the invasive and intrusive ones, because it’s their world, not ours. (This is why I refuse to refer to integration as inclusion.)

So I’ll close with a quote from Chris deBurgh’s “The Getaway”:

Das ist auch unsere Welt
This is our world too
Oui c’est notre monde aussi

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

19 responses »

  1. I notice something peculiar about this: We were supposedly too difficult for mainstream kids to put up with, but we were somehow not supposed to be too difficult to put up with each other. This is one of the strangest things about segregation to me. Somehow mainstream kids don’t have to put up with us, but we, who supposedly have less people skills, are supposed to figure out how to put up with each other.

    I think that comes from the assumption of outgroup homogeneity (the cognitive bias/attribution error of assuming that everyone who doesn’t resemble oneself must therefore all resemble each other). “They’re not like us, so they’ll enjoy each other’s company.”

    So do some disabled people, I have noticed. Physically disabled people don’t seem to want us in their own segregated schools, and I’ve seen many speak with more horror at being “lumped in with the retarded kids” than at being forcibly segregated in the first place. And many disabled adults, of all kinds, only want some kinds of disabled people, if any, around them.

    While most of that is almost certainly just bigotry, there might have been a realistic fear that if they were thought to be associated with “mental problem” kids, they’d be treated as badly as them. Of course, that’s much less excusable in adults.

  2. My schools were also segregated, but to a much more fine-tuned degree than it sounds like yours were… My district had completely separate schools for:
    — Regular kids + physically disabled
    — Physically disabled (home tutoring)
    — Dangerous/violent/emotionally disturbed
    — Intellectual impairment (Downs Syndrome, etc.)
    — Autistics, kids with CP, and other “they’re typical-intelligence and nice, but need one-on-one support” situations. This group shared the normal/physically-disabled campus, had lunch with us, and had students on both sides cross-over as appropriate.

    They changed all the rules after I left, though, even worse than what you described — all disabilities, ESL, pregnancy, kids holding a job to support their family, and basically anyone that needed any accommodations in one school that didn’t have classes at all (students just checked in with homework and maybe had an hour or two of tutoring), then the other one dedicated to mainstream-only.

    I can guess the rationale behind keeping disruptive students (aggressive, loud, whatever) out of the mainstream classrooms, I just don’t entirely *like* it. It’s basically: mainstream pace, especially in advanced classes, is often high-speed, and having somebody constantly disrupt it would keep 30 other students from doing well. In contrast, from what you’ve said, the special ed classrooms generally weren’t exactly aimed at advanced-placement high-pace academic stuff, so derailing progress a bit each day wouldn’t do long-term harm. (I’m not saying that is fair or good, just making a guess as to the reason.)

    “People with receptive language problems were … insisting that other people must make the effort no matter the cost. The idea of interpreters was rejected by nearly everyone as simply impossible”

    Must have been one of the fights I wasn’t in… :-p The last one I participated in had most of the receptive-disabled people coming up with all kinds of ideas for ways the expressive-disabled ones might get around their difficulty, including interpreters, computer programs, and so forth… They were all rejected by the expressive-disabled people as being creativity-stifling. (I think that you and I actually suggested interpreters at almost the same time once, perhaps a year or two ago. I know that I didn’t stick around to see what happened… I got fed up with the constant on-list conflict, went no-mail, and much later just unsubscribed entirely.)

  3. There were problems on all sides of that fight, and yeah it was that one. I don’t want to dredge it up again, but I don’t think anyone was thinking entirely clearly by the end of it and definitely people on both ends of the thing were being totally irrational at times. And totally rational at others. It wasn’t as one-sided as it looked, from either side, nor was either side particularly monolithic. (I simultaneously saw the point of both and got fed up with both by the end of it, and the whole time I wondered why on earth people couldn’t just talk about it without getting, and seemingly staying near-permanently, pissed off at each other.)

  4. All “special ed” educators and personnel need to read your account. Charlie, I know, has leanred to live with a lot more than I ever had to at his age…..or ever will have to.

  5. May I dare say that La Professora Grandin got something right, here? I write about her account of having been taught formal manners when a kid. I, too, raised Southern as I was, was taught to be polite, use formal salutations, not to stare at, or make fun of weird people, say Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am, etc. and so forth. May I suggest that the people into whose company Miss B. was thrown necessarily had to be polite to each other to avoid even worse problems than those already imposed upon them?

  6. I… er… wouldn’t exactly call what we did “politeness”. <snicker> At least, no version of it I’ve ever seen taught anywhere. No formal salutations, no sirs and ma’ams, some people still made fun of weird people, and staring certainly occurred. (Although staring was strongly discouraged if what you were staring at was teacher-on-kid abuse, at which point you were supposed to avert your eyes before a teacher started bugging you.)

    Although staring didn’t occur to the degree that it does on the outside, I think, because we weren’t as weird to each other after awhile as we would look to outsiders.

    I mean, I honestly forgot at one point that anyone would be shocked by a kid jumping onto the roof and peeing on police officers. Or kids jumping on the roof in general, the roof was fairly popular. As was people dropping their pants when they were mad. (I had, by that time, quit removing clothing when mad, but I’d certainly done so not long before I got there.) Or having most of their clothes stripped off when they were “bad”. Or screaming and cussing in the courtyard. Or other stuff that I’m guessing I probably shouldn’t get too graphic about. So various sorts of nudity and related strong-in-the-outside-world taboos certainly didn’t get a lot of stares, at least from me. Not because I was being polite, but because it was normal there.

    Now I’m remembering a CD I have with historical information about Ohio’s state institutions. One woman on the CD recalled going in there, and seeing a lot of people nude or partially nude, and doing all sorts of things that don’t normally happen in public in the outside world. At which point an old man who lived there walked up to her and said, “What the hell are you looking at? This ain’t no zoo!” Nobody ever said that outright at any institutions, including that particular school, that I was at, but I can easily picture a situation like that happening there.

    But… yeah, I think “putting up with each other” might be the word, because it’s not like we always did it nicely, or gracefully, but we managed it. Polite wouldn’t be the word for nearly any of us, although there were of course a couple of unfailingly, unnaturally (i.e. institutionally) polite kids there, since that’s one way to stay out of trouble with staff.

  7. Well, I reckon y’all weren’t allowed to use the traditional Southern remedy for cases in which one was polite, and the other party was nonetheless rude; that is, call ’em out!

    Being mean to people, offending their sensibilities, etc, that’s just yuckypoo! (i.e., rude)

    Talk about an imbalance in social power!

    Dang! Had I been tossed into your situation, I don’t think I would have done nearly as well as you, and I am, as I said, “mostly normal”.

  8. Off topic but, re the Chris De Burgh, *PLEASE* tell me you don’t like his music.

    On topic – this is an interesting one really. On the one hand, I would certainly argue that disabled kids generally should not be segregated in special schools if at all possible – from what I know of special schools most of them aren’t much good. On the other hand, if a student is engaging in generally disruptive behaviour on the level of climbing on to the roof and peeing on passers-by, then some action has to be taken. There are obviously limits in any society, as to what is acceptable and what is not.

    Leading on from this I can’t help feeling that the view behind lumping all these kids together in school that you described, that is the idea that because all the kids were learning disabled they’d be able to tolerate each other while non-disabled kids couldn’t possibly be expected to tolerate the disabled kids, might have a tiny amount of truth in this. Quite simply, this is that the behaviours that you describe were normal in the school, while clearly being not only not normal but totally unacceptable in the outside world, and so none of the other disabled children in the school would be particulary shocked by these behaviours.
    Mind you, having considered the wide range of kids in your school (including dyslexic children!) that probably wouldn’t have applied to quite a few of the children anyway.
    I have to say, I’m rather at a loss as to the solution here – I suspect that to accomodate children with serious behavioural problems will require some pretty radical thinking on the part of educationalists.

  9. Re: Chris De Burgh, I like some of his music. I dislike some of his music too. Take your pick.

    Re the rest…

    The post isn’t meant to be an argument in favor of segregation. It’s just an interesting note on how the outside world thinks it shouldn’t have to deal with everything that we ended up having to deal with anyway.

    I also have a problem, in situations like that, with locating the “behavioral problem” in the child, like it’s a disease or a symptom or something like that, because it’s too complex for that. Certainly it’s not a trait of an individual that must be “accommodated” though.

  10. I don’t know what your take on this might be, but I tend to assume that a “behavioural problem” is usually a result of something *someone else* did or is doing, and so the behaviour is that person’s natural response to the stressor. So the behaviour itself doesn’t need to be “accommodated”, so much as other people need to take into account that they are not blameless in the situation.

  11. It’s very likely that that is true. No-one, whether disabled or otherwise, acts violently or disruptively without there being some reason. In a classroom situation, merely the usual sights & sounds might cause an autistic child to erupt. So the question is, how to accomodate children with different needs and reactions to the norm, without segregating them (which I don’t agree with) or making it more difficult for other non-disabled children.

  12. I’m actually not sure about the “making it more difficult for other non-disabled children” part. Because there’s a possibility that they already have it unnaturally easy. I’ve talked to several people whose parents were told that they could not be educated in a regular classroom because their wheelchair would be distracting, for instance. If merely the sight of people different than them is difficult, then I think they’re going to have to get used to some difficulty, and I think they’d be a lot more capable of it if they didn’t have this sense that they were the ones who should be there and anyone else was only there conditionally.

  13. In the UK our schools are so target driven with baseline assessment for pre-schoolers, then key stage assessment at 7, 11, and 14 and competitive public examinations at 16 and again at 18 for those who choose to stay at school beyond the statutory age of 16. League tables are published so that parents can see which are the “best” schools. Middle class parents move house or even change religion (part of our state system are faith schools.) If a school is deemed to be failing the inspectors move in and it can be closed if it does not meet targets.

    That is the reason why my school for severe learning difficulties has tripled in size in twenty years. The government and the local authorities push so-called inclusion as an option when they really mean integration. Everybody has to fit in and not damage the school’s performance on the standard tests.

    It is often the case that a “failing school” is one that has taken in the kids excluded from other local schools. The kids and their parents like the school and want to keep it open. But they cannot match the results of the neighbouring schools that have effectively selected the academically able and the undemanding pupils.

    In a situation like that a segregated school can be a lifesaver for some kids. We are not expected to compete in the exam stakes. We may still be judged against those standards when we are inspected. But most of the time we can seek to create a nurturing environment for some damaged kids and rebuild their self esteem and find areas of success for them.

    It is not ideal. Sometimes it is like having chickens and foxes in the room together. But my experience is of special schools that are nowhere near as horrific as the institutions that Ballastexistenz describes.

  14. “I’m actually not sure about the “making it more difficult for other non-disabled children” part. Because there’s a possibility that they already have it unnaturally easy. I’ve talked to several people whose parents were told that they could not be educated in a regular classroom because their wheelchair would be distracting, for instance.”

    Well, no doubt that’s true, but let me give you a theoretical example to illustrate what I mean. Imagine the following situation: an autistic kid is educated in a normal classroom along with other non-autistic kids. The autistic child finds the noise of the kids, their natural behavour, even their smell (which the autistic kid can percieve due to hypersensitivity), to be unbearable for more than very short periods and therefore has almost constant tantrums, screaming fits etc. which make teaching the class impossible because of all the noise the autistic child is making. Objectively, the autistic child’s response to his/her surroundings is disruptive to the other kid’s education (obviously it’s not this child’s fault). The question then arises: how do you accomodate this autistic child in a mainstream setting in such a way so that he won’t have these sensory responses which both ruin his school experience and disrupt his fellow students’ education?

    Obviously there must be a way – I suspect in this kind of situation it would involve some form of assistive technology, but I’m just using this as an example to argue that it’s not only intolerance on the part of others that is the problem. There are wider issues as well and accomodating *all* children in one setting rather than segregating at least some disabled ones will require some redesigning of the education system itself.

    BTW Chris De Burgh should be thrown into a pit and concreted over. And we’ll throw in Phil Collins just for good measure! ;-P

  15. “Imagine the following situation: an autistic kid is educated in a normal classroom along with other non-autistic kids. The autistic child finds the noise of the kids, their natural behavour, even their smell (which the autistic kid can percieve due to hypersensitivity), to be unbearable for more than very short periods and therefore has almost constant tantrums, screaming fits etc. which make teaching the class impossible because of all the noise the autistic child is making. Objectively, the autistic child’s response to his/her surroundings is disruptive to the other kid’s education (obviously it’s not this child’s fault). The question then arises: how do you accomodate this autistic child in a mainstream setting in such a way so that he won’t have these sensory responses which both ruin his school experience and disrupt his fellow students’ education?”

    If a child is having that much difficulty in being around other people, why would you even consider forcing that?

    I may be wrong, but I think Amanda has said that some people can’t be “included” the way people think of inclusion/integration/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, and that needs to be respected and taken into consideration when desiging school programs for the disabled.

    In this example, though, the most obvious solution (to me) would be to allow the child as many breaks from the classroom as he needs. If that results in him missing more than half the class, then maybe he’s just not able to be in a group learning situation, and efforts should be made to have his learning take place separately – coming into the larger group for activities in which he is able to participate as an equal (such as those taking place outside, perhaps).

    But for the sounds, there are earplugs and protective earphones, if he can tolerate them. And for behaviour that is intolerable because he is seeing it, he could perhaps be seated at the front of the classroom. For smells, I am not sure that there is anything yet. If there was, I would definitely be using it. ;)

  16. Pingback: Feministe » Mundane Stress

  17. Unfortunately, we have a one-size-fits-all education system. It’s bad enough for “normal” kids who have different skills, IQs, and learning speeds. We’re never going to have a better system for all students, disabled or not, without overhauling the whole thing and actually committing decent funds. I’m not going to hold my breath for that to happen. It’s difficult enough to get politicians to commit enough money for our current crap system.

  18. I was one of the physically disabled kids who was in ‘special’ kindergarten and mainstream classrooms starting in grade one. The special education was the kind that mixed all different types of disabilities, like paraplegia, dyslexia, Down’s Syndrome, etc. I can’t recall any autistic children in the room, but it’s possible.
    The fear of being ‘lumped in with the retards’ was in my case, largely learned from the adults. In the special school, and the various ‘special’ activites that followed me through middle school, the adults exercised a lot of control over the children. Considerably more than was typical for even five and six year olds. Walking from one room to the other was monitored. Not only did you have to request a bathroom break, but they were counted and charted for everyone, even if there was no medical reason. But I was considered exceptionally bright, so I got to spend my kindergarten year doing first grade reading with the normal kids (same buliding, seperate program).
    One incident I recall from when I was five was going off to the first grade classroom by myself, since that was where I was supposed to be next. An aide stopped me, told me not to wander off, and insisted that I accompany her and the other children to the kindergarten classroom, despite my efforts to explain. It wasn’t until I arrived that the teacher told her I should go to the first grade classroom for reading.
    In restrospect it’s pretty trivial, but it made a vivid impression on me. There was one place where I could go and learn interesting things and be listened to and treated with respect, but it was only because I was bright and almost normal. And people from special education would be watching, to drag me back with the the others.
    In elementary school this was reinforced in a lot of little ways. I needed a parental permission slip to go on the jungle gym. I had to do all the regular class duties, including carrying the basket with the lunches down to the cafeteria (ever carry a washtub while on crutches?) and it was implied that if I couldn’t I didn’t belong in a regular classroom.
    In some ways I can name, and a lot of ways I can’t, I picked up the impression from the staff that me being in the mainstream classroom, and by extension, learning interesting stuff, being treated with respect, and having a future, were all contingent on ‘keeping up’ with the normal kids, not just academically, but in a lot of undefined ways. And that I never quite could. So there was the fear of the special program waiting to jump out and snatch me if I screwed up or wandered off. So anything that connected me to the kids in special education seemed dangerous.
    This isn’t intended as a justification of my attitude as a kid, but to explain where a lot of it came from, and how programs and administrators can help bring this situation about.

  19. The Report of the Survey of the Schools in Chicago, published in 1932, found that special classes were “so regarded that they cast a stigma on anyone who is assigned to them.[…] If this attitude of mind were confined to teachers and principals alone it would be bad enough, but it inevitably spreads to the entire school community.” […] Regular pupils were “inevitably trained to look upon the more unfortunate of the school community as persons to be avoided, ridiculed, or maliciously tormented.”

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