I’ve been trying to avoid the Internet–especially Twitter–since I read about Annie Clark winning an award for her penmanship. I posted the story on Facebook with a comment lamenting that her award was in a special category for people with disabilities. My mind was buzzing with snarky thoughts I was itching to tweet.
I decided to leave it alone for a while. Let the matter settle in my mind before posting anything more than I already had. But days later, I’m still ruffled about it. Why should this girl with what appears to be excellent handwriting get a special award? There is a part of me that wants her to be judged with her peers on her ability. Her handwriting looked great to me. Let’s not set apart what does not need to be set apart.
Even as I type, there is another part of me that knows that it is different to write with no hands. It is a noteworthy accomplishment. Why would I try to say that it isn’t?
I really wanted to write a blog post condemning “special” in all its forms. I want to say that all kids should be in the same classrooms and compete for the same awards despite the differences that may separate them.
But I can’t write that post. I can’t say any of that.
Despite my knee-jerk reactions, I’ve read enough to know that I don’t know. Children’s fiction like Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper explore the question of mainstreaming children in education, and Jonathan Mooney’s memoir The Short Bus looks at labels, special education, and whatever normal is anyway from the perspective of someone who lived the “special ed” label. (I blogged about it here.)
In short, I’m conflicted. I guess that’s where I’ll leave it for now.
Read more about my prosthetic arm at Fake Arm 101.
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