It goes deeper than this one story.
A Colorado Kindergarten teacher allegedly said the following on social media: I’m so tired of hearing about special needs children…They were re****** before COVID and they’ll still be re****** after…Do you really think they will be any different after staying a year at home with their parents…Sorry, you f***** got pregnant and had a re****** kid. Your problem not mine. And yes, I’m a f****** teacher.
Of course, this is despicable. The teacher claims he was hacked and did not make the comment. The school board is moving towards firing him.
Still, special needs parents are posting the story. Why?
Because it goes deeper than just one man’s words.
You see, most people don’t make outwardly horrendous comments like these about our kids.
They are much more subtle.
It’s the in-law’s friend who decides to pull you aside and explain why your views on school inclusion are wrong.
It’s the acquaintance who makes you feel guilty for using tax dollars to get services for your child.
It’s the online commenter who says you did society a disservice by choosing not to abort.
It’s the disapproving stares from the old man at the store.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
It’s not just this one man’s words.
It’s that over the years we have received a similar message from strangers and those who are close to us:
Your child is not as worthy as others.
Not worthy of services.
Not worthy of rights.
Not worthy of human dignity.
Not worthy to pursue happiness.
It’s your problem.
It’s their problem.
Deal with it.
I’m not saying these comments are the norm. I can’t speak for the special needs parenting community, but I can tell you that the positive outside encounters with our child have outweighed the negative ones.
But the negative ones are not forgotten.
And when we see something said that’s so egregious like the statement above, those old memories come rushing back.
Do you know why so many special needs parents are posting this teacher’s words? Because we know the truth- they are simply a symptom of a collective illness.
Thanks to the tireless work of advocates, society has improved for our children with disabilities. And yet still has so far to go.
Part of the cure is knowing this- a different life is not a less than life.
Our children are worthy.
Of extra support.
Of the pursuit of happiness.
Why? Because they are human. Fully human. Like me. Like you.
We know that. We want you to know it too.