It is hard-wired into us as parents to consider our children exceptional — unique, one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable. This way of thinking is a cornerstone of our humanity. It is also what makes us our children’s first and most important teachers.
As our children reach school age, some of us come to learn just how challenging exceptionality can be to negotiate, both for our children and ourselves. The overwhelming majority of primary and secondary, public and private schools in this country aim straight for the middle of the bell curve of intellectual and social development in both how and what they teach. The student “ideal” upon which most curricula are based is a child who progresses in predictable stages academically (“on grade level”), is well adjusted with peers and teachers, and pursues “age appropriate” interests and relationships. But what about the child who does not conform to these norms? How can we as parents help make sure that an educational system built for the “rule” does not leave our “exceptions” behind?
Read more here: Patricia Connelly: Advocating for the Educational Needs of the Exceptional Child, Part 1: A Primer for Parents of Students with Disabilities.
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