My son is 3 years old, and has been walking for about 6 months. I thought it was the perfect time to get him started in toddler football/soccer. Toddler football involves running after balls, kicking balls, throwing balls, and knocking over the occasional orange cone. So I was a little surprised when the first two places I called told me that Harry would not be accepted into their programmes. This was apparently not due to his physical limitations (weak and uncoordinated left side of his body), but because his development is delayed generally, and by 3 years of age the kids are expected to do what they are told and follow instructions.
Hmmm… Harry may not be the best at understanding, but I personally know of many kids his age who do understand but are actively defiant and choose not to do as they are told – and don’t really see how this is all that different. I was told parental assistance during the session was not encouraged and they felt it was not the right fit for him.
At 3 years old my son is already being refused opportunities. Is this a sign of things to come in the following years?? I will admit, I do over-think things, and was most upset at the thought of the numerous opportunities that may not be afforded to Harry during his life due to his differences.
Harry was eventually accepted by a toddler football club, and LOVES it!!!
However, the whole soccer debacle coincided with a debate that I kept seeing pop up about whether special needs children should be in “special” or “mainstream” schools. The debate mostly is based around whether normally developing children are disadvantaged by having special-needs children in their class, as they may be disruptive, and are special-needs children getting the learning experience they require when in a mainstream school. To me, it is bordering on “let’s lock all the special needs kids away so we don’t have to deal with them”, but I am perhaps a little biased.
I do understand both sides of the argument, but Harry didn’t choose to not be able to speak, or for his left side to not work properly. Surely having him in a mainstream classroom is not that different from having a normally developing child who is not particularly good at sports, and struggles with maths (requiring extra attention)?? And if children are taken from mainstream schools and herded off to special schools, what determines the cut-off?? Why not just create a school for the A students, another school for the B students, etc. Surely some of the most important lessons learned at school are diversity and acceptance?
More on the debate here http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/should-children-with-special-needs-be-taught-in-a-mainstream-class-20110701-1gv3a.html