YOU IS KIND, YOU IS GOOD, YOU IS SPECIAL: My Brief Story of Being a Special Education Student.

Happy Thursday, Maniacs! I hope you are all doing splendidly–I think I used that word right? If you aren’t having the best week, you’re stressed, anxious, harboring anger, I pray that you will find peace, comfort and joy soon. Sometimes it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. If your circle makes you feel that way, then they aren’t your circle–at least a healthy one anyways.

Today, I want to touch on a subject that I rarely speak on. So rare in fact, that when people hear about it, they don’t believe what I say is true. But on this blog we tackle the important topics with a sense of compassion, concern and vulnerability that can heal and bring understanding to those who read it. I wish that with everything I write that you guys learn something, gain insight that you may never knew you missed or luxuriate in a refresher of what you’ve known all along but haven’t yet applied.

“Dumb ass; fool; slow; retard; special”.

How often have you heard these words used by those you know, those you don’t but overhear their conversations disparaging someone or something? Have these words been thrown your way, slicing and dicing your subconscious, causing you to doubt everything you say or do?

I know I am in the generation that says “IDGAF”–I don’t give a F*CK–what people say about me, but that’s just not true. Sticks and stones can indeed break your bones, but bones usually heal in time. Those words will stick to the adhesive of your mind where memories of good times and bad cling for dear life. How do I know this? What makes me such an expert on what it’s like to be an outcasted, disenfranchised member of society? With heroes, it’s usually their distinctive, meta-human, God-like abilities–their gifts. For me, it’s my superpower as well; I am a product of special education.

Whitney Houston WHAT?
The look that people give me when I tell them that I grew up with an IEP and was a student who took special classes all the way up to Sophomore Year of High School.

Yup! Don’t adjust your screen’s brightness or shift your spectacles further up the bridge of your nose. I shout aloud that I am SPECIAL and PROUD! Okay…now that I got that off my chest, let’s get serious.

From the beginning of my tender years of schooling I was considered to be someone with a learning disability. For me, it was math and my ability to do it in an efficient, timely, and correct manner. I’ve never kept it a secret that me and numbers don’t get along. Letters and me always connected because I guess communication has never been a ginormous issue in my life. Ask my mother or any of my teachers growing up, they’ll tell you that I was one sass-mouthed whippersnapper who had a diva complex that could make the iconic operatic sopranos of yesteryear envious. Ah, yes, the front that maybe if I made myself seem more sophisticated and socially savvy that perhaps I’d forget that I was a student with a learning disability.

There is something to be said about the feeling of your friends who attend regular classes walking on by you as you walk into a room with only a select few kids–whom are all different in their own way–with the plaque on the door saying ‘Special Ed.’ Well, damn, why don’t they just make it enlarged with lights around it as if it’s a Broadway show and plaster my name on the marquee while they’re at it! Maybe I am just being dramatic, but I remember feeling embarrassed. It was not easy going to school and having fellow students mutter inflammatory slurs your way. Oh, there were many of days when I would want to tell them and anyone else who picked on me where to kiss it and where they could shove it. But instead, I just accepted that maybe I was slower, maybe I was a dumb ass, a freakin’ retard. That settling negatory affirmation stoked a fire inside me that made me even more angry and mouthy at the system and those that placed me in it.

EAT MY SHIT
Though I should have said it then, I will say it now for the 9-year-old me that was teased and mocked because he just needed a teacher who could break things down in a way that he could understand. “Eat my…” You can read the rest!

The teachers did the best they could to make us feel like there wasn’t anything wrong with needing a bit of extra attention when it came to the curriculum presented to us. That in life you sometimes you need a fresher set of eyes, a tongue whose lessons roll off its tip with clarity that is guided by a spirit of patience to better its listener.

I was so fortunate to have had some of the absolute best teachers! I can remember most of them by name and I am still in contact with my favorite teacher ever who has inspired me in my own style of teaching to my dance students. If she reads this, I hope she knows that she has made a hell of a difference in my life, and because of her passionate dedication and innate ability to teach me in ways that other teachers could not, I am a better overall human being because of her.

My mom also was a big proponent in this equation–scratch that she was a MAJOR PLAYER. She would always show up to parent-teacher conferences, call the school on the phone, endlessly, ensuring that her children were getting the best education possible. Her and my teachers were a force and my support system throughout the madness of being a kid who just so happened to be a Special Education student. They didn’t want that to be a phrase that encapsulated and imprisoned everything that I actually was. That if I was special, it wasn’t because of a label, but because of the gifts that I possessed that could change the world–one person at a time.

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My teachers and my mother were the backbone of me succeeding throughout my academic career. They were my protectors, providers, affirmers, my army. We all need support, no matter if we are seen as strong or not!

In hindsight, I thank God for my special education teachers! They are unsung heroes in their own right who I don’t think get the credit that they deserve! I’m so grateful for you guys; When other teachers didn’t know what to do with us, YOU did.

I feel like there are many more services that are available for people with many different disabilities–whether it be learning or those described as more severe. To my fellow Maniacs out there who are reading this: Remember, that you, your family members or even friends always needs help with something. Whether it be learning things, coping with life, keeping a cool head, staying healthy, etc. I love sharing my experiences with you and I hope, if anything, that you can take what you’ve read and do better than those that I speak about who pick on others because of their weaknesses instead of loving them because of them and encouraging them to grow in a positive and loving way.

For those that are in school or have a child who may be a student who is enrolled in Special Education–below is the Serenity prayer. It has kept me centered through many adversities and I hope it does for you as well.

 

 

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

–Reinhold Niebuhr

 

Be kind to each other, be kind to yourself and spread awareness that being in special education does NOT make you dumb or some kind of inept scholar. It just means that you see things through a different lens and all you need is a teacher with the right pair of optics to steer you clearer.

You IS KIND

I love you guys! Until next time.

 

–CAM ❤

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