"If you came into the room and were told there was a retarded child in the class, a child with special needs, I don't think you would have picked Lee out. The kids really agree that he's as capable as they are. Intellectually the same." P83
After reading Citizenship in School by Kliewer, there were certain parts of his stories that brought back very memorable flashbacks to myself. The story of Lee Larson rather is a story that personally hits home with me.
"They see down syndrome. They see mental challenge, retardation, whatever you want to call it. Thats what they see, but they wouldn't be seeing him." P84
Throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years I attended school with a boy who was in my grade who had down syndrome and a touch of autism. In elementary school this boy was in my class every year from grade one to grade five. Consistently, he was the first one done on quizzes and tests, always receiving one of the highest marks in the class. He was the school spelling bee champion back to back years. However, as it was clear to see, his physical appearance was rather different than the rest of the class. He had full function of his body, but compared to the others in the class he looked different. When middle school and high school came along, this boy who I had known as one of the smartest kids in my class for years ended up being placed into an inclusion classroom, with other students who had disabilities. This class varied because it had some students with physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and learning disabilities. I had always known how smart this boy was, but as time went on I always wondered why he wasn't in any of the classes I was in.
This Kliewer piece brought this situation to light in my eyes. Why didn't he have the opportunity to advance with the people he went to elementary school with. Was having him in these inclusion classes holding him back from what he could have potentially been as a students? Did being inclusion hinder him rather than help him? Why was he not tested on his cognitive ability rather than his looks. Could all anyone see was down syndrome and autism?????
I think the main question that this Kliewer piece brings to me is by separating students with disabilities, are we really helping them or hurting them in the long run??