Is Remediation in Your Home Education a Reflection of Your Child, or Internalized Ableism?

by | Disability Justice

I often walk a fine line between honoring who my son is and teaching him the skills required to live as independently as possible.⠀

I first became aware of this tug of war when dealing with my son’s sensory aversions. He has a strong objection to the texture of playdough. The sight of it makes him gag heavily. Disappointed, I worked on desensitizing him. I found myself further discouraged as his physical reactions were so severe, he sometimes dry-heaved.⠀

How far should I push my son to build skills others deem necessary?⠀

 

Strict corrective interventions have never felt right to me.

Schools are good at being “fixer factories” where problems in kids are identified, then corrected so that children conform to a set of standards outlined by some far-removed team of “experts.” The history of schools as correctional institutions is rooted in white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism, and ableism. A child’s weaknesses are at the forefront of lessons, evaluations, and reports. There is little regard for a child’s unique qualities because the system is set-up for standardization.⠀

Fixing children to fit a mould stems from systemic internalized ableism that runs rampant in schools.

I wasn’t aware of this myself until I was on the outside. Accommodations are difficult to implement, buildings are highly inaccessible (hint: it’s not all fixed with ramps), and objectives are often set for the student. The end-goal is to make a child more like other children.⠀

I believe all people should be given every possibility to thrive.

And, I don’t want my son to thrive for others. I don’t want him to change so that he’ll be accepted by society.

 

I foster his differences, not fix his “issues.”

This is how I approach home education.⠀

Most days, we’re dancing on a tightrope that sits neatly between remediating and accepting my son right where he is. We move forward; then, we pull back to where he’s most comfortable. We move forward again, then pull back again to find that “just right” spot.

At all times, I follow my son’s lead.

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