misconception

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So. Here’s a story for y’all.

Every year my mom makes me voluteer at Columbia Elementary. I don’t know why; I guess it’s supposed to keep me from my home so I can get my homework done elsewhere. Last year I spent an hour and a half every Tuesdays and Thursdays at Columbia. The first half hour I sat in the library and cut out laminated book covers for the librarians, among other things, such as shelving books. Then I went over to a different classroom and helped kids with their reading. The kids were playful and everything, and sometimes it got really out of hand, but it was all good.

Anyway, this year I went back and asked the front desk if there were any classrooms that needed volunteers. They told me that they would call me a few days later, which they never did. So I went back again and they told me that Lifeskills I needed volunteers.  For those of you who don’t know, Lifeskills I is where they put the kids that struggle the most with living their life. The first thing I thought was, “no…” I really did not want to hang around “mentally retarded challeneged kids” as I quote myself, and I felt that I was lowering myself down to their level.

That was in January. Now that it’s March, my conception on them has changed so much. So much. I really adore those kids. They’re always on my mind now when I’m not there.  But I have learned so much while I was there.

One of the things I learned that children with mental illnesses have such good behavior. There’s no screaming, no running around, no not listening…well, there is, but it’s so subtle. There’s no talking back, and most of all, there’s no discrimination. I think this is one of the most important things. If you look around on the playgrounds of elementary schools, you’ll probably find that usually people who are alone or are getting picked on are different in some way; either physically or religiously or however else they may be different. There is one Asian kid in the class, named Ian, a kid whose nationality I can’t figure out (he looks like the way I did when I was younger) named Jason (weird, huh?) a Mexican (I think) named Alex, two hispanics named Mennan and James, and a bunch of white kids named Jorden, Kate, and Emily. Oh boy, I think I’m missing one. Nope, that’s it. Anyway, you can see the racial difference in that one classroom. And yet, none of them point it out. Sure, you can say something like, “It’s because they don’t have them mental capability to point it out.” That’s right. That’s because since their minds are developing more slowly than their bodies are, they have the minds of little children. Watch little children play with each other. There is no discrimination amongst them.

There is another thing about them. While some of them only have mental problems, others have physical problems as well. For example, Jorden is apparently unable to eat through his stomach. When he laughs it sounds like there is a whole lot of mucus in his throat and he can’t talk or anything. And he drools a lot because he can’t swallow his spit. I stayed a few minutes after school one day and I saw one of the teachers going over to him and lifting up his shirt. There was a little valve thing, the kind that you would find on inflatable toys like inner tubes.  She opened up the valve and stuck a pipe in it, and put a graduated cylinder thingy with an opening at the end, connected to the pipe which went into the valve. She measured out water from a bottle and poured it in there. It went in there pretty quickly, and all the time I was wondering, “….what???” And kinda was like, O_O????

Oh well.  I think I’d rather have a mentally challenged kid than a regular kid. It probably wouldn’t be a good thing, and upkeep would probably be high, but they’re sure as hell a lot better behaving kids. Unless it was Joseph.

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6 thoughts on “misconception

  1. my mom works in the lifeskills medically fragile room at harbour pointe. the kids youre working with will go to her classroom in a few years. ive heard a lot of the same things you were talking about from her such as the lack of discrimination or judgment. i think your kids may be higher functioning though. her kids are not able to function on their own and have seizures. but she has worked with kids like those in your class at M.E.

    the downside of children like that is that after theyre 21 they cant be in the school system anymore, and have really no where to go. so they never leave home or go to an institution type place.

    the valve was a shunt for a feeding tube, it goes directly to his stomach. a few kids in my moms class have those.

  2. Wow, didn’t know you volunteered. Sounds like you’re learning a lot and your heart is softening to the things of this world that aren’t so mainstream.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. I don’t think having a mentally challenged kid has anything to do with discrimination or behavior. What it really boils down to is parenting and the environment you put your kid through. Parents have to stop blaming other people and step it up.

  4. I love how honest you are. It’s admirable 😀

    And that’s so incredibly sad…
    Who would take care of your mentally challenged kid after you died though? If you had one.

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