Further to my posts Learning. Slowly. Very Slowly. Part 1 and, inevitably as day follows night, Learning. Slowly. Very slowly. Part 2, this is a brief rant by Mrs O. It was originally for another purpose, but I feel it sums up better than I can some of the problems with having a child with learning difficulties.
When we adopted C., like our other three children, we felt like we had won the lottery. She failed to thrive and it became clear that she had severe leaning difficulties. Her life has been a struggle, but she always has a smile.
We have learnt that these children were shunned. Schools kept them in so-called learning corners away from the other children. Parents would openly say “she’s special needs so can’t come to play”. C. had no friends and grew up as if she and we would contaminate anyone who came into contact with us. She looks normal but needs people to treat her with tolerance and kindness. She feels like everyone else and so do we.
As C. becomes an adult there is a dumbing down of what is expected of these young people and they become marginalised. They are unable to fit in with normal education and produce results. It is a no win trap. Why invest in them at all? What can they possibly contribute to this world?
I am reminded at this point that on my first coffee morning with C. some bright spark piped up and said that if she had known she was pregnant with a baby like that she would have aborted it.
But there are hundreds of adults and children like C., who are all human beings with just as much right to be here as you or I.
We have through C. learnt more about the world she sees, the intolerance of others and how she accepts it as normal. This should not be so.
It is a deplorable, hidden and unnoticed prejudice. There are hundreds of charities, funds and spectacular Invictus Games type events; awareness of every colour, gender difference and physical disability. But special needs? Let’s be clear, there is nothing special about learning difficulties and there is nothing for them. They have no voice and are invisible, marginalised and treated with contempt, intolerance and indifference.
How many charities see this as worth bothering with? Or see it at all?
An example of the prejudice: C., who looks normal, needed a helping hand in the disabled toilets. This got a filthy look from a wheelchair user waiting outside- because she was able bodied? So I said: “Would you like to wipe her bum, help pull up her trousers and supervise her washing her hands? No, I thought not. Not all disabilities are visible.”
C. is at a fantastic school which she leaves at 16. Then hopefully she goes on to the only college with anything like a challenging education, although this is only three days. For the rest of the week she is presumably left to occupy herself.