Kelly McL

I am writing to advocate for my son and the many other children out there who struggle daily with a mood disorder that affects ALL aspects of their life, including access to education. Our family is very thankful that, rightly, my son qualifies for and receives special education services in a school appropriate to his needs. This involved an enormous amount of research, hard work and hiring an advocate to help us navigate this elusive educational path. The topic of education is a very large can of worms that would create much discussion and debate. There is one particular topic that, I feel, is a significant source of stigma and subsequent fear for parents: disability classification for special education services. My son’s behavior and mood impede his access to education and therefore his primary disability classification is “Emotional Disturbance”. I am an educated adult that should understand this LABEL provides my child with needed services and placement, however, this LABEL sits like a giant bolder in the pit of my stomach. I worry that every educational professional who comes in contact with my son will have developed a preconceived notion of him, and our family, based on this LABEL. I have met many families who do not want to accept special education services when this LABEL was stated as the classification for fear of stigma within their school system. “Emotional Disturbance” is a negative, archaic, educational LABEL that needs to be changed for the inclusion of our children.

One response to “Kelly McL”

  1. Jeanne says:

    I could not agree more. I have the same exact story as your Kelly with my son Tommy. He is now 15 years old and I live and breathe to tell you, your fears are correct. My younger son is in grammar school now (the same grammar school that my older son was in and removed from in Kindergarten 10 years ago when he was classified as “emotionally disturbed” How in God’s name did the new principal of this grammar school come to me with concerns about my younger son (who is not classified, nor does he need to be) when both brothers have two completely different fathers with completely different last names. The stigma surrounding classified children runs so deep that this principal went on a witch hunt to harass my younger son, simply because he is related to his “classified brother” up to and including calling dyfis, (which by the way was unfounded and I received an apology from the dyfis social worker). Every privacy law in the book was broken in our case. The point I really want to drive home here is put your big girl panties on and prepare to fight every minute of every day for the rest of your life! You will be advocating for your child forever. What’s in a name, right? Well in our society, everything! Unfortunately, in order to medicate, treat or educate anyone unique, we have to give it a name. Until the poor unfortunate ignorant folk in this world get over the stigma associated with our children we Mothers and Fathers will be fighting for them daily. This is an arduous and exhausting task at times but worth every minute for the help my son receives on a daily basis. Remember something, there are no mistakes or coincidences. You and only you were chosen by this universe to mother your beautiful unique and perfect child and it is your divine birthright to do so in any way you see fit! Do not let anybody ever forget it either! Godspeed on your journey through the rest of your school experience with your child. I for one will continue to research way’s and resources to change the wording of these ridiculous archaic classifications. Until then, look out world, cause this Mama is advocating for my son and every other child in the same boat and if anyone thinks they can get any of us down, trust me your arms are too short to box with God!

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