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Friday, January 18, 2013

Kids With Disabilities and School

I know I have mentioned in a couple posts that my youngest child Sahara was born with EXTREME Clubfeet.  The Dr's told us the day she was born she might not walk because this was the worse case they have seen.  Wow, that was a lot of news on the day she was born.  I didn't know before hand that she had clubfeet so it was a big whammy for us!  Her first day of life she had 2 casts put on her.  Those things were heavy!  Breastfeeding and holding those legs up were a challenge.  

Years later she is walking, running, and now dancing.  She has had several years of castings, braces, two surgeries and many hours of physical therapy but her feet still turn in a bit.  This doesn't stop her a bit except at school.  The only time it is really noticeable is when she runs.  

This year Sahara is at a new school and the kids are not familiarized with her disability.  They tease her all the time and she comes home crying almost everyday.  They mimic her, call her names, and laugh at her.  I mentioned first to the teacher but she did nothing so I went to the Principal and she took action as soon as I told her.  The Principal pulled in the kids that were making fun of Sahara and let her tell her story- she had a voice.  The Principal told me that Sahara did this with poise and extreme confidence.  They talked about  safety first for their bodies and hearts, recognizing the many individual differences they have and how those differences make them unique, acknowledging that they should, at school, take care of each other and make certain they do their best to help each other feel great about them selves and recognize each others beauty. 

As a mom I really appreciate the principal not brushing me off like the teacher did "kids will be kids" is what I was told.  Really...well my child is going to fight back and let it be known she doesn't deserve to be picked on!  Or Mama Bear will appear, LOL! 

I know I was picked on for my red hair and being overweight through out school.  I will always be there for my kids and we will always stand up to those who might need a bit more education about what clubfeet is and how this is something she is not doing on purpose.  

Do you have any advice on how I should handle future incidents at school?  
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45 comments :

Michelle Muckala on January 19, 2013 at 5:49 AM said...

Wow, what a beautiful story! Kudos to you momma for not taking that "kids will be kids" mentality. When you have a child that is hurt and crying, that has completely crossed the line. I think you handled it very well and God Bless that principal! Good job momma!! I was always made fun of for being so pale-I don't really tan unless I get burnt. It carries with children through adulthood, I think you did the right thing nipping it in the bud right away.

Kelly Johnson on January 19, 2013 at 6:24 AM said...

I think you handled this beautifully. You probably handled it better than most people would have because you have personal experience and knew what she was going through. I'm glad that the Principal allowed your daughter to use her voice.

freedomacademyonline on January 19, 2013 at 6:27 AM said...

I have no advise on how to handle this if it happens again. As a homeschool family this is not an issue for us. I really want to say that I love how the principal handled this by turning it into a lesson for the children in an nonthreatening manor. The question is did it work?

anointingwithoils on January 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM said...

I can not believe that the teacher actually said that! Well, on the other hand, yes I can....
I had my girls in public school until the fall of 2006. Both girls were NOT getting the education that I knew I could give them at home, and as I had already decided to homeschool our son, the girls asked to come home too and we have never looked back. Nor could I ever imagine putting my kids in a public or private school. I LOVE having them around me!
But really, I think you did just right going over the teacher's head and going to the principle and I am SO GLAD to hear how the principle handled it! I hope that the teacher realized how important it is to stop bullying and teasing and that she learned a lesson out of this too. Hopefully the kids stopped teasing your daughter?

anointingwithoils on January 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM said...

I really have no suggestions on how to handle this if it happens again. The way you handled it seems like the best way - especially since the teacher did nothing. It is sad to see a teacher take the stance that "kids will be kids"... No child should have to go through that and not get support from the teacher in the classroom.

We homeschool, and have since the fall of 2006 when we pulled out our 2 girls. We had originally thought only to homeschool our son, but our girls asked for us to homeschool them as well. I am glad we did. I would not ever go back to anything else, as I LOVE having them around me so much of the time. And personally, I am glad that we don't have to deal with THAT kind of socialization! LOL (no, not trying to start anything w/that comment, just stating my heart felt opinion. :) )

anointingwithoils on January 19, 2013 at 9:38 AM said...

I really have no suggestions other than what you already did, and think that was probably the best idea. Glad that the principle took action, and how they took action, when the teacher didn't, and I am sorry to hear that the teacher did nothing but say "kids will be kids" - I hope that she has rethought that and learned from this! No child should be bullied or teased.

Joell Olalde Springman on January 19, 2013 at 9:55 AM said...

I think you should handle it just as the principal did, only before the fact. When your daughter is facing a new situation or class, take her in and introduce her and explain her situation matter-of-fact. Then invite the children to ask any questions they have. This will allow the children to learn something and maybe help them empathize with your daughter, helping them to realize she is a person with feelings. It's time to acknowledge that there are differences in people and nothing to be ashamed of or make fun of. The sooner we do that with our children, the better. I don't believe this is putting your daughter on display, she knows her reality, and it's better to have the attention on her in that way, than later in a negative way.

Joell Olalde Springman on January 19, 2013 at 9:56 AM said...

I think you should handle it just as the principal did, only before the fact. When your daughter is facing a new situation or class, take her in and introduce her and explain her situation matter-of-fact. Then invite the children to ask any questions they have. This will allow the children to learn something and maybe help them empathize with your daughter, helping them to realize she is a person with feelings. It's time to acknowledge that there are differences in people and nothing to be ashamed of or make fun of. The sooner we do that with our children, the better. I don't believe this is putting your daughter on display, she knows her reality, and it's better to have the attention on her in that way, than later in a negative way.

Joell on January 19, 2013 at 10:03 AM said...

I think you should handle it just as the principal did, only before the fact. Whenever your daughter faces a new class or situation, introduce her to the children and explain her situation, then allow the children to ask any questions they have. This will allow the children to learn something new and take the stigma off your daughter, putting the attention on her in a positive way rather than negatively later on.

Jennifer on January 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM said...

It's great that you stood up for your daughter and wonderful that the principal stepped up and helped rectify the situation. Bullying is no joke. I worry about bullying with my son and his eczema, allergies, and asthma as he just started pre-k. I do hope I'll be able to help my son find his voice as your daughter found yours.

Marie on January 19, 2013 at 2:09 PM said...

I think you handled it wonderfully! You tried the teacher without sucess and the next step is the principal. Sounds like it was handled with care and love for all involved. How did the other kids respond? Sometimes all it takes is some education and for them to realize the other child is really just like them. Well done! Your child has a good mom!

Angi on January 19, 2013 at 5:40 PM said...

Our oldest has a speech disorder and is about 60% understandable. Thankfully this hasn't been an issue within our local homeschool community. However, I have heard so many stories about kids being teased and school staff writing off parents so I'm glad the principal listened to you. How are Sahara and her classmates doing now?

Safiyyah Abdurrahman on January 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM said...

What a sweet story! Its great that your daughter was able to express how she feels to her classmates.

Elizabeth Towns on January 20, 2013 at 2:05 PM said...

I really love this post. A friend of mine experienced a really terrible time of bullying with her daughter at school, and it did not end like this. The school principal handled it badly, and the school board had to get involved. She is now at a different school. She was scarred by the incident, and I am still incredibly angry with that school and the adults involved at the way in which it was handled. You did a great job and so did your daughter and the school.

Dalynn McCoy on January 20, 2013 at 8:11 PM said...

I think the principal did wonderfully. So sorry you had to deal with a teacher like that! Sometimes the school system just isn't set up to deal with anything outside of "average" - and this is why we, also, are a homeschooling family. :)

Dalynn McCoy on January 20, 2013 at 8:12 PM said...

I think the principal did wonderfully. So sorry you had to deal with a teacher like that! Sometimes the school system just isn't set up to deal with anything outside of "average" - and this is why we, also, are a homeschooling family. :)

Dalynn McCoy on January 20, 2013 at 8:14 PM said...

(UGH, I typed this already and apparently wasn't signed in so it didn't post. *sigh*)

I love the way the principal handled it! So sorry you had to deal with a teacher who didn't seem to care. Sometimes they feel so disarmed and have the life and creativity sucked out by the system, that they fall into a routine and just forget how and IF they can deal with things. The school system just isn't set up to handle much outside of the range of "average" which is why we, too, are a homeschooling family. :)

kelli@eatprayreadlove. on January 21, 2013 at 9:39 AM said...

This is a touching story. My nephew was born with club feet and I know how hard it is to see a tiny baby subject to casts and surgeries. It sounds like you have raised a wonderful child in Sahara and hopefully those children will think twice before making fun of anyone else.

Cheryl on January 21, 2013 at 2:48 PM said...

My heart aches that any child would be bullied at school. That the teacher wouldn't move on it is sad. You were right to press it through. I am encouraged that the principal had Sahara express herself. This is not a situation children should just handle on their own. Adult support plus child-appropriate involvement in the resolution is so important.
Sometimes adults and children don't know what to do and just hope it goes away. It rarely does. The hard part in it is taming the "mama bear" and saying what needs to be said without losing it.

Stage Presents on January 21, 2013 at 3:10 PM said...

I love the way you and the principal handled this situation. I think it is amazing that your daughter was able to go in and stand up for herself. I think one of the hardest things as a parent is to stand back and watch your child get hurt. I have a daughter who is 8 with a speech delay. And, I worry ever day about her experience with other kids understanding her. She has been in speech therapy since she was three and she has come a long way but she still struggles in some ways. Good luck to you and your exceptional little girl.

Marina@EBMR on January 22, 2013 at 3:07 AM said...

I think you did the right thing. Thank God for Principals like that. I hope she gave the teacher a talking to! Just stick to your Mama instincts. Your child is your responsibility and you have every right to go out there and protect her best interests with all the Mama Bear in you!

Emily on January 22, 2013 at 7:37 AM said...

What a wonderful Principal. Your daughter - and other children, too - are so fortunate for having a caring leader. I hope that your daughter and her peers took a lot away from their meeting. Children do pick on others for everything - whether it is a disability, the wrong shoes, different hair color - it's wrong to perpetuate it, and I'm happy to see that appropriate action was taken for your daughter.

She's fortunate to have such a caring mom.

Kecia on January 22, 2013 at 12:03 PM said...

Ugh, the "kids will be kids" approach when it comes to teasing/bullying makes me so mad! Yes, kids are kids, but they need to learn to be compassionate in regards to others, especially when it's out of the other child's control. Teachers turning the other cheek are part of the problem!

Kudos to the principal for jumping right on the issue and correcting it. I think I'd skip the teacher and go straight to the principal again if this becomes an issue in the future.

Tanya on January 23, 2013 at 6:48 AM said...

The principal sounds wonderful. What a great way to handle the situation. being a teacher, I am upset about the way the teacher decided to handle it. I'm glad you did not let it go. I would just continue what you are doing. Also continue to let your daughter know how much she is loved and that everyone is unique in their own way. I'm sure you do this already. I just read a book called Life Without Limits about a man born with no arms or legs. It was very inspiring!

Tanya on January 23, 2013 at 6:51 AM said...

I don't know if my comment showed up. Kudos to the principal. I really like how they handled it. Being a teacher, I feel horrible about the way the teacher handled it. I'm glad you did not let it go. I would just continue what you are doing. Let your child know how much she is loved and that everyone is unique in their own way. I'm sure you already do this. I just got done reading a book called Life Without limits. about a man born without legs or arms. It was very inspiring.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:13 AM said...

Thanks Michelle. I feel so much better going to the principal than just accepting "kids will be kids" mentality.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:14 AM said...

Seeing my daughter so sad was my force on making this right. Sahara was also very proud of herself and she did find her voice.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:16 AM said...

So far so good and Sahara feels if anyone teases her now she can speak up. She is one strong girl. However, we have also talked about homeschooling if this continues because I want her to get the best education and she can't get that if she is worried on what the kids are going to say or do to her.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:19 AM said...

We are also thinking about homeschooling due to this issue but we will continue this school year out. The principal was our hero and Sahara knows she has someone at the school that has her back.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM said...

Very good advice Joell. I wish I would have done that. We did address it with the teacher during the beginning of the year but was shrugged off at the time as well. Not a fan of the teacher this year. Sahara now knows she can speak up and won't let the others pick on her anymore.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:26 AM said...

You are so right..bullying is no joke. It was disturbing to see my happy go lucky girl come home crying and not wanting to talk about it. Since she was able to talk about this she has no problem now letting others know its not right to pick on others. So finding that voice was important and really encourage you to work on that with your son.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM said...

Thank you Marie! The other kids responded very well, they made her cards telling her she is sorry. One of them has been trying to sit with Sahara at lunch but Sahara is a little hesitant. I told her it was okay and this might turn out to be a great friendship. The principal let me know she contacted all teachers about being considerate on all disabilities.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM said...

Sahara is doing fine so far. No crying this week so that is a major plus! She feels confident. We are looking into homeschooling for next year.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM said...

Thanks Safiyyah! I think expressing her feeling to her classmates who were picking on her made her feel a lot better.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:34 AM said...

I'm sad to hear your friends daughter had to go through all that. I was very impressed on how the principal handled this issue and has checked in with us through out this week. She said her goal every day is not to have any kids go home crying. She wants the kids to feel safe and loved while they are school. Too bad the teachers don't think like that! Thanks!

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM said...

You are right the school system isn't set up to handle much outside of the range of normal but thank goodness there are educators out there like our principal that won't accept this behavior. However, I do know this is very rare.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:39 AM said...

I remember the looks we used to get when we went out in public when she was wearing her casts. It made me stay at home a lot. I hope the kids learned a valuable lesson after Sahara let them know about her disability. We are doing physical therapy now to help her with her balance.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:41 AM said...

OMG you are so right on the Mama Bear. My first thought was let me know who these kids are and I'm going to talk to their parents. Knowing full well I wouldn't but I wanted too! I loved how the principal asked Sahara if she wanted to express her feelings to the kids and that helped a lot.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:44 AM said...

Thank you! Good luck to you and your daughter as well. Yes, it is hard to watch our kiddos get hurt. If I could shelter her for the rest of her life I would but that is not reality and so we need to do whats best then hope it works!

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:47 AM said...

Thanks Marina! I feel very blessed to have the principal we have because I feel this was a life experience my daughter will look back on and learn from. I will always fight for my kids thats for sure!

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:49 AM said...

We are fortunate and the school is one of the best in the area and now I know why...the leader! I think some life lessons were taught on the day Sahara was able to voice her issues. The kids have been very nice and this week no crying or talk of being picked on. Thank you!

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM said...

I don't deal with this teacher anymore. She has been at the school for over 25 years and I think she is just done. The principal told us to come to her no matter what.

Pam Allen on January 23, 2013 at 9:53 AM said...

Tanya thank you! We are on it with making Sahara know she is beautiful inside and out no matter what. We don't let anyone tell her she can't do something. I will look into the book for sure because we all need to be inspired.

Jen on January 23, 2013 at 10:18 PM said...

It sounds like your daughter is off to a good start with the tools you've given her to speak up for herself. Maybe let her practice what she would say if the situation arises again?

Rebecca @ Love2EncourageYou on January 23, 2013 at 11:54 PM said...

I'm very pleased to hear how the principal handled the situation. I'm glad you are at least getting some support. Blessings to your sweet daughter for her courage through trials. She will be a strong and confident young lady who is able to compassion and empathy for others. I homeschool my three so I cannot share experienced wisdom with bullying, but I know as the wife of a public school teacher that the teacher can help put a stop to bullying in their classroom and hallways if they make their stand against bullying clear to all students to instill fairness, and respect for one another. The students will follow the teacher's lead if they show emphasis on their detest for bullying and they will see the bullying come to a complete halt in the presence of that classroom and halls near that teacher's area of influence.

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