Column

Some Books for Help with Special Students

Question 1

I was aiding at a school where a student’s parents were in denial about their child’s disabilities. It was obvious there was a disability present and the student was in a special education classroom. Their reason for him being there, despite their denial of a disability, was to have him tested to see if he performed beyond the demands of the curriculum. How do you deal with parents on a touchy topic such as their child’s disabilities when they are in denial?

I am wondering if, as a teacher’s aide, you had as much access to information about the situation as did the teacher. Assuming that the teacher had all the information, was she free to share it with you? Were you involved in any conferences with the parents? Regardless, I read in your question the concern for handling a situation as a future teacher, where you feel parents are in denial of a situation.

I just reread a book where such a situation occurred. Mary Callahan relates her story in Fighting for Tony. Hers is a difficult journey even though, as a registered nurse, she had connections to the medical field. With her baby crying incessantly, she sought many medical opinions, only to come away with the idea that those in the medical profession thought of her as a nervous and overanxious mother. By two years of age, Tony was diagnosed with autism. Through her own research, she looked for treatments different from those suggested by the medical profession, while trying to be careful not to alienate herself from them. The arrival of a second child eighteen months after Tony made her realize how Tony responded differently from her baby girl Renee. She also soon realized that Renee was determined to communicate with him.
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