Special Needs ≠ Social Outcast

“Spread the Word to End the Word,” a movement dedicated to ending the use of a word that simply disrespects hundreds of thousands of people. It was just the beginning of putting a stop to people who are mistreated because they are different from others.

“Retarded is such a derogatory word now, it has changed from a description of someone’s abilities to something hateful and offensive. Retarded is not a person,” said Denise Hinson, who assists in the life skills classroom.

Hinson believes that a better description would be ‘cognitive disability.’

Special needs students could also be referred to as life skills students, as they are taught life skills to prepare them after they have received their certificate of completion upon leaving Lebanon High School.

“People do not think that they can do the same things general education students do,” said Hinson.

This is a mentality that many people have and from there, people are often socially separated from everyone else due to their disabilities. This is a mentality that needs to be changed, worldwide.

Hinson believes that for the most part, LHS is very good at making everybody feel like they are somebody.

“We are all about letting them be a part of everything, just like everyone else,” said Hinson.

Many students at LHS are a part of many extracurricular activities.

Life skills students are involved in many things like Charisma, Candy Coke, Comedy Sports, etc. Life skills students also attend after school events such as prom, senior dinner party, graduation and most other things that general education students are involved in as well.

Many people, young and old, often have implicit biases formed about students with special needs. If you are wondering if you treat these students differently, you can ask yourself a few questions such as:

Do I include life skills students?

Do I speak to life skills students in the hallways?

Am I aware that they are teens too, and have many of the same interests as I do?

Do I treat them with the same respect as I do my other peers?

March is the month of Disability Awareness. If you are not able to answer yes to all of these questions, take a moment to reflect on areas that could be improved, whether it is engaging more with life skills students or simply removing misconceptions or biases you may have.

North Dakota, being the first state to ban abortions based upon genetic diseases including but not limited to Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The state bill has captured national attention, with other states fighting to pass similar bills.

In Ohio, effective March 23rd, 2018, abortion will be illegal for mothers who want to abort their child simply because prenatal tests show that the child will have down syndrome. The same law has not passed in Indiana, due to a block placed by a judge.

“This is not about everybody getting their feelings hurt, this is about what is responsible and what you should call people, like life skills or special needs,” said Hinson.



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