I’m a person with a disability. I was mainstreamed, in the Public Education System starting in 1962. I remained mainstreamed in the Public Education System until 1981. Mainstreaming as defined during my formal education years: I went to “regular Public Education schools.” There were separate and I’m sure unequal schools for “Crippled Children.”
Mainstreaming was not a walk in the park. Everyone, irrespective of my being classified as “Crippled” assumed because I could walk, talk, do math, read a book, and follow rules, I was “normal.”
No one ever asked: This child is “Crippled,” how is it possible for him to be mainstreamed and be successful?
The nouns used Crippled, mainstreamed, normal, never meet at the same place in reality. How could they?
Both of my parents were very educated with advanced degrees. Our medical, education, socialization, environment, culture, religion, faith, beliefs all played a role in “The miseducation of a “Crippled Child.”
As a child, teen, or adult in our education system, we are indoctrinated to believe: The educators/teachers know what’s best for our children. In my experience and life, educators teach what they know. If you have no knowledge of, or personal experience with a person with a disability, the canned/boxed education you’ve learned is ineffective at best and very harmful at its worst. Teachers, parents, most medical providers tried to work from what they saw, not what the concerns were. I always knew there was something different and unique about my ability to learn. No one listens to a child.
I experienced a traumatic brain injury at the age of 2 years and 6 months old. The visual effects of this injury:
- I walked with an uneven gait.[walked with a limp]
- My left arm was folded at a 90 degree angle
- The fingers on my left hand was in a clinched fist position
Part 2 of this series will be forthcoming.