Why Are We So Afraid Of Accommodations For Children?
Every week, I receive a report showing the top searches that drive traffic to my blog.
Every week, I cringe.
At the very top of the list, for the last year or so, the top search is always some variation of this –
“Spoiled child with autism”
“Spoiled dyslexic child”
“Spoiled child in special ed class”
I wish I was exaggerating to make a point. (Incidentally, the second most popular search is “My 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 Year old can’t read” – which is another post entirely.)
Every week, I see the word – spoiled.
Every week, I wonder who is searching. Is it a mom worried about spoiling her child? I would like to think it is, but I suspect, based on the variations in the verbiage used, that it is not a concerned mom or caregiver. It’s someone else. A family member, a friend, a teacher, a witness to the last meltdown, a therapist – it’s someone outside the child’s life concerned enough about the child being spoiled to take the time to search for it on the internet.
Last week, I found myself defending our choice to homeschool my son (again).
The expressed concern was that my son is being “over-accommodated” by learning at home. (Over the years, I have learned that “over-accommodated” is really just a more professional way to say “spoiling.”)
After the appointment, I decided to do some more research on school accommodations for profoundly dyslexic children. While I did eventually find the list I was looking for, the first few articles were about the attitude towards and fear of accommodating children at school.
“We don’t want these children to become dependent and lazy,” was one quote from a school official in the first article I read.
It’s a message I hear all the time in my life beyond the internet as well.
What if he gets too dependant on his service dog?
You can’t allow him to move while you teach him. How will he ever learn to sit still? This is a sign that he needs a Ritalin prescription.
If he is homeschooled, how will he ever learn social norms and reciprocity?
Why Are We So Afraid Of Accommodations For Children?
The general concern seems to be that accommodations create laziness and learned helplessness.
Please hear me when I say, a child with social, physical, emotional and learning differences is far from lazy. I look at my son and see a child who works twice as hard for less than half the results – all the time.
He runs the equivalent of an emotional marathon every day –
To communicate effectively
To read basic instructions
To socialize with his friends
To use the restroom independently
To take medicine
Lazy could not be further from the truth. Exhausted maybe, but not lazy.
My son is not helpless, nor will he ever be, but he does need help.
Accommodations are no more or less than providing crutches to someone with a broken ankle. In order to get around in the world, the accommodation is necessary. And just like the person with the crutches, my child is aware of his accommodations – and looks forward to the day when they will no longer be necessary.
He doesn’t want to have to use assistive technology for reading and writing.
He doesn’t enjoy the frustration that comes from having me speak for him when he cannot be understood.
He resents the time he spends in therapy appointments.
My child may need support, but like any other child, he craves independence.
When all is said and done, it is far more likely that if a child is receiving accommodations, whether in a school setting or at home, it is because they are needed.
Please, error on the side of grace and respect.
And if you are worried that somehow, a child is being harmed and enabled?
I will say it again – error on the side of grace and respect.
Even if a mom is totally, 100% spoiling and enabling her child, all day long, every day?
Even then, error on the side of grace and respect.
Am I Spoiling My Child Or Accommodating His Special Needs
Does My Child Really Need These Treatments, Therapies, and Interventions?
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.
Thank you for writing this. Our adopted son came to us at the age of 10 after being bounced around from foster home to foster home for over 4 years. He even spent a year or so in residential treatment. He is diagnosed with RAD, PTSD and ADD. We were expected and pressured to sign him up for all sorts of services that were supposed to help him learn socialization skills and life skills. I mean after all, he will have to live in the real world someday right? What we were just starting to learn and then fighting to get everyone, including the court system, to understand was that he was not going to learn these skills before we could help him heal from some of the trauma he experienced. We were told we were coddling him, not holding him accountable for his actions, we needed to be more strict and more regimented with him and so on. Accommodating his special needs, meeting his needs at the age of the need was something none of the professionals could understand. He spent his days in exhaustion because it took everything he had just to pretend to be normal, to no dysregulate in front of people and show that he was different. He had nothing left for academics and sports. He’s made great progress this past year because we made accommodations for him. We homeschooled him and gave him the rest he needed. We gave him the attention he lacked from birth to age 5 and he’s started to learn basic conflict resolution, even bordering on more complex ideas of conflict resolution. More parents need to hear your message :-).
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