Hot Topics, Life Stories

A disability does not define a student

A school in Gary, Indiana has given out a Most Annoying Male award. It was awarded to a 11 year old boy on the Autism Spectrum. I find this very disturbing as I have a disability myself and I had trouble at school, as well as identifying another issue.

Where was the Most Annoying Female award? Was there one? Or  was the Most Annoying Male award completely made up, just because they needed to give every student an award  at the end-of-year presentation?

Regardless of the reason, it is very disappointing that the teachers couldn’t see any positives and had to resort to negativity. When I was at school, not everyone got an award and I was lucky to get 10 merit awards in the school year. On Presentation Day, I didn’t get many class awards but got awards for languages and academic achievement. I wasn’t an angel, I didn’t tow the line but I shone in my favourite subject, Languages Other Than English (LOTE) where I studied mainly Italian, but a bit of German and later Indonesian. Not bad for a girl with a speech impediment!

Why couldn’t the teachers at this school in Indiana see the positive things that this child does?  Aren’t we supposed to be teaching our children empathy, compassion and inclusion?  Teachers should be setting the ultimate example for the next generation not doing the complete opposite.   What did this ‘stunt’ teach the students present at the award  ceremony?  Nothing. Nothing except apathy, inconsiderateness and exclusion.  The three things that a child should never, ever learn.

Every child has a right to feel safe and respected at school, as well as the right to an education.  Learning is an essential part of life and you never stop learning.  A student’s disability does not deprive them of these things that non-disabled people can freely access. 

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