A Letter to My Special Needs Son’s School Principal
School has failed my son, who struggles with ADHD and Tourette syndrome. But here’s hoping 7th grade in your special education program can turn it all around. Plus, is labeling a special needs child necessary?
The kids in junior high, though, weren't as kind as the ones in elementary school. He was bullied on the bus, called a freak. With all due respect, your "zero tolerance anti-bullying policy" is crap. A kid got off the bus at Aden's stop, and then attempted to strangle him. He got two days suspension, after which he commenced taunting my son as if nothing had happened. Ironically, that was the same punishment Aden got earlier in the year for admiring that shark tooth necklace a little too closely.
And then, with your "classes come first" policy, Aden couldn't play basketball anymore. As you know, no extracurricular activities if a kid is in danger of failing any subject. No exceptions, even for special-ed students. I lost my all-star point guard, and Aden lost the one thing that made him feel good about himself.
Maybe if he had been allowed some extracurriculars, he might have perceived school to be more fun, and tried a little harder. Just a thought.
Now you know the story of Number 49 on your special education roster: He looks like any other 12-year old boy: gawky, a little bedraggled, yet usually smiling, with braces. But he had a rough start and never fully recovered. He often says "I'm stupid," or "Everyone hates me," and sometimes, "I don't care anymore."
In summer school last month, he got a 70. A pleasure to have in class, they said. So there is hope. He's not the norm in your school, but he's one of yours, still. Please make room for him, and kids like him, in your policies and your attitude.
And if he's still in danger of failing something come October...can you bend your rule for basketball? If we work together, we can prove that elementary-school teacher who saw him as a future troubled teen wrong. But time grows short.