Late yesterday afternoon I came across something on Facebook which I found very disturbing indeed. My friend Luke F. had posted an account of his experiences at his special school. It’s quite a well known school, so I won’t name it for fear of breaching confidentiality, but what Luke described was chilling. From what I read, the school forced Luke, who has fairly severe CP, to take pills (I’m not sure what pills) against his wishes, bribed him, and made him wear arm restraints.
Now, I know I wrote on here not long ago about how I can see the need for special schools in certain, specific instances: I am not an ‘all means all’ guy because I believe that trying to educate the most severely disabled children – those with, say, severe autism or learning difficulties – among their able bodied peers would put so much pressure on the child it would probably be cruel. I also don’t think this is an issue one should be dogmatic about. Yet cases like Luke’s give me pause for thought. While I never encountered such cruelty at my special school, I’ve heard many accounts of children being similarly mistreated; teenagers being put to bed at seven; kids barely being fed; students getting the most cursory, half arsed educations imaginable. Indeed, Lyn went through such an ordeal. I had hoped such travesties were well in the past, but Luke told me he only left school in 2003.
This cannot be right; it cannot be legal. Of course disabled children should be educated alongside their able-bodied classmates where at all possible, for the benefit of both. Yet while I feel there are select, specific instances where segregated, special education is necessary, surely horrific accounts like Luke’s cannot keep cropping up.