Post Classifieds

Leading schools to provide a helping hand

By Lauren Farmer
On March 31, 2014

Awareness and knowledge of mental disorders relating to Autism has tremendously increased in the last twenty years in our society. There are organizations today, such as Autism Speaks and Autism Society that help individuals to be thoughtful and informed of these types of disorders. While society has increased in both knowledge and support of disorders relating to Autism, the aide and attentiveness that is needed for these children in school has only just begun.

My brother, Colin, first experienced the social obstacles of Autism when he was denied an aide when entering preschool. My mother decided that she would find a school that helped him instead of hurt him. At the school he is at today, there are many opportunities and options present that were not at other schools.

Colin has an aide to guide him through school and help him with homework, obtaining a job, the basics of cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping, and learning at his own pace to help him develop skills are a few opportunities that the school provided. Looking back at his progress, starting when Colin was three, running through the house screaming and throwing objects, unable to identify or control his emotions, and to Colin now, a more calm, social, and knowledgeable teen, is truly amazing.

There are many children who do not have this option to improve their abilities and, as a result, do not develop the skills needed to become an independent individual. Having a fair share in the experience of a job interview, the hiring process, working for a paycheck, and putting that paycheck into the bank or spending it can impact children and teens with mental disabilities, increasing the chances of them learning how to live a much more independent life.

Providing an aide system for mentally disabled children can be a challenge for schools, due to monetary issues. According to a study conducted in 2000 by the Center for Special Education Finance, the U.S. spent $77.3 billion on special education services and daily special education for children, out of the $404.4 billion that went towards elementary and secondary schools. While costs for children with disabilities are immense, providing help should not be a second, third, or fourth priority, but a first.

While learning disabilities are tremendous barriers for these people to face, spending the time and money with students to help them reach obtainable goals can create stepping-stones to a better life. Looking at the improvements Colin has made following his work experience, along with the opportunity to attain general skills, I feel that many other children could benefit from having the similar advantage and support in furthering their education and gaining independence.

Lauren Farmer, 18, lives in Linden. She is a full-time student and believes that putting her all into what she does, both at school and at work, is vital in reaching her goals. She is currently attending Central Michigan University and is taking online classes at Delta College.

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