Thursday, July 22, 2010

Don't judge a book by its cover...or something like that

Most of us can recall being told not to judge a book by its cover.  Well the same can be said about people; especially those who have disabilities.  This train of thought came about when I was watching a television show (if you must know what it was I will admit it...I was watching the real house wives of New Jersey...I know shameful), but there was a young man who is an aspiring lawyer and was being denied entrance into the program because he has a disability. 

Now here is a person who is entirely capable of becoming a lawyer, he is driven, intelligent and willing to put in the work to achieve the desired outcome...a law degree, but what is standing in his way?
His disability//NO//
Money// NO//
A person is standing in his way because they can not see past his cover...a.k.a. his label! How horrible is this? This young man is being held back from achieving his dreams because someone thinks he is not capable! They are not even willing to give him a chance because all they see is a label and are not willing to see what is behind it! This just makes me sad! I hope he is able to push past all the negativity and achieve what he has set out to do! I wish him the best

The same situation happened to me only a little different. I was going for my bachelors in varying exceptionalities k-12 (special education).  Now I was and still am hesitant in telling others that I have a disability because people tend to freak out when they hear the D word, but being in school I had to let my professors know, so I could receive accommodations (extended time). 

All most all of my professors were fine with me having a disability in fact none of them ever made it an issue, much to my relief! In fact, I would of made it out of school without an major disability judging if it was not for this one professor, who happened to be a special education professor, go figure!

I was taking a class regarding behaviors in the classroom and everyone was required to pick a student in our internship and do a BCP (behavior change plan). No big deal...unless there are literally no students with disabilities that had any major behavior problems in my class! So I had to practically find a minor issue with a student who had a disability and create an entire BIP (Behavior intervention plan) for them.

Now these BCP and BIP are no small tasks they are time consuming! Unfortunately, I did not have any other option this had to be done so I did it and got approval from everyone around me including my professor. I had successfully created a BCP and BIP with a student who had no behavior issues at all, I was on my way to my last year of school...

...except the one professor who was not even teaching the class had an issue with my paper. In the professor's opinion I did not successfully find a behavior to modify therefore I did not create a adequate BCP & BIP which meant that I was not suited to be a special education teacher! The professor thought I had gone far enough and that my disability was preventing me from completing the program!

I remember sitting in her office amazed that she was saying this to me.  Here this special education professor, who has a doctorate, is telling me a person who has a disability and is getting a degree in special education that I can not do something because of my LABEL!

Are you kidding me

I did not know what to say...I just sat there holding back tears because the last thing I was going to do was let this person see me cry. To sum things up I made some changes to my project, which by the time the paper was complete the professor who had an issue with it was teaching at another university, but whatever! I was still in the program and had even more determination that I was going to stand up for students who had disabilities because of what I had faced due to my label.

What I want you, the reader, to take away from these rambling of words is not to judge a person by their cover a.k.a disabilities.   A label is a bunch of letters put together to form a word that does NOT determine what that person can or cannot do!!

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