Quite often, people with disabilities are treated as if they are retarded, child-like, or incapable of taking care of themselves. This is incorrect almost all the time! Most people with disabilities have or would like at least some degree of independence, and many disabilities have little or no effect on mental processing. There is a severe stereotyping problem with people with disabilities.
During this summer semester, I’ve worked with children with and without disabilities at the Early Learning Center in Pullman, Washington. Early Learning Services provides quality childcare in an interactive, nurturing environment. They believe that early intervention helps to improve a child’s opportunities for success and that providing least restrictive environments improve children’s social skills. Peer modeling is encouraged amongst the children and classes are fairly small with multiple teachers/caregivers.
While at ELC, I mainly worked with two children who had disabilities. One was a six year old boy who had a mental disability and the other was a little girl who was about a year old and had a club hand and facial deformities. They were both fun and unique as well as being quite different from each other, so I enjoyed getting a varied experience working with them.
The boy whom I shall call Michael, was extremely energetic and social. The classrooms at ELC are completely integrated so he participated in all activities. Michael was treated the same as everyone else by the teachers and was not given special treatment or privileges because of his disability. He was required to behave and participate just like everyone and unless you spent much time in the classroom, you wouldn’t even notice that he was any different from anyone else. When I first entered the classroom, it took me quite a few minutes before I could even figure out who Michael was. Michael talks a bit differently than most children and also tends to repeat himself a great deal. This could cause some people to think that he’s not very intelligent which would be incorrect. People quite often stereotype mental disabilities in unfair ways and seem to be quite uneducated about this type of disability in general. Physical differences in people’s appearances cause people to make assumptions that are often incorrect. Since Michael had no physical deformities, someone looking at him would not assume that there was anything different about him, however since he talked in sentences more appropriate for a younger child, they might make an incorrect judgment,
The other child who I shall call Lydia, will probably struggle more than Michael as she grows up because she has a physical deformity in her hands and face. This will likely cause people to make assumptions about her. I was not informed as to whether or not she had any mental disabilities, however unfortunately, since she looks differently, she will likely not escape being judged. The women who take care of Lydia on a daily basis...