I am a product of my local public school system. Due to the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy, I also received Special Education services during both my elementary and junior high school years. Although I was completely mainstreamed for all of my academic subjects into a General Education classroom setting, I received my math instruction in a Special Education classroom setting. In addition, an Instructional Assistant would accompany me to all of my classes.
Beginning in Kindergarten and ending at the end of my sixth grade year, I also received both Physical and Occupational Therapy. Although I also continued to receive Special Education services throughout my years in junior high school, I did not have a positive experience during junior high school.
The school where I attended junior high was an awful, violent and dangerous place. Students became scarily immune to the dangers. Many female students were physically and sexually abused on a regular basis. As a special education student, I was sometimes too naive for my own well being. As time passed, I began to realize just how much I truly was sheltered from the realities of my own growth and life experiences.
In my heart, I believe that many Special Education teachers are good-hearted, well-meaning people, with a love for children and a sincere dedication to their learning and success. However, in my eighth grade year, I chose to leave Special Education and attend my neighborhood high school. I began to realize that as long as I stayed in such a self-contained environment, doing so would be to my disadvantage in the future.
In my opinion, Special Education teachers can sometimes fail students by treating them as if they are permanent children and not encouraging the children to think for themselves or solve problems independently. The few people who were exceptions to this played important parts which contributed to my well-being, learning and ability to succeed.
The deciding factor in my difficult but correct decision to leave Special Education came when I finally realized that the same teachers who were responsible for educating me were in reality, harming me. My teachers were not making it possible for me to grow. Some of my Special Education teachers were doing far too much for me. It was very scary when I came to realize the worst part. Some of my special education teachers were even doing my thinking for me! I realized that if I wanted to enhance my intelligence and independence to its God-given potential, I had to leave the Special Education classroom setting.
My decision to leave Special Education was one of the wisest choices I have ever made. As a result, I have learned so much about myself and in some ways am far more independent than some of my friends with disabilities. Somewhere along the way, I learned how to think! My being fully mainstreamed into my neighborhood high school helped me to become the successful, smart and independent woman that I am today.