Recognizing Children with Multiple Disabilities
Synopsis: As a sister, mother and teacher I have witnessed the evolution of special education from institutional placements to inclusive settings. There are countless studies, stories and pictures of people who are disabled achieving goals that were once considered unattainable. But, when do we recognize children who are multiply disabled and whose achievements cannot be measured by test scores, academic progress, graduation rates and employment?
IDEA Definition of Multiple Disabilities
...means concomitant [simultaneous] impairments (such as intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness. [§300.8(c)(7)]
The Evolution of Special Education
As a sister, mother and teacher I have witnessed the evolution of special education from institutional placements to inclusive settings. Special days, months and weeks are designated to celebrate and bring recognition to the many different types of disabilities whether it be physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness, or various types of chronic disease. There are countless studies, stories and pictures of people who are disabled achieving goals that were once considered unattainable. This is especially true of children who have a mild to moderate impairment. I think that is fabulous. But...
Piles of Colored Ribbons and Shirts with Slogans
When do we recognize children who are multiply disabled and whose achievements cannot be measured by test scores, academic progress, graduation rates and employment? They are the children who do not fit into one day, week, or month of recognition. That would be recognizing only a part of who they are and their disabilities. They would need to wear a pile of ribbons or a shirt filled with slogans to bring awareness to their disabilities.
A Bouquet of Flowers
When I think of children and adults who have severe concomitant disabilities, I picture a bouquet of flowers. A single flower does not represent the beauty of who they are. It takes a bouquet of flowers to see their beauty and understand who they are. Maybe we should have their special day with a ribbon with multiple colors or a shirt with a picture of a beautiful bouquet with the slogan,
Children with Multiple Disabilities
Are a beautiful garden of achievements,
People with Multiple Disabilities
Bloom because of your care, compassion and understanding.
Kathleen M. Cleaver holds a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and the education of children whose primary disability is a visual impairment (TVI). During her thirty-year career as a teacher, Kathleen received the Penn-Del AER Elinor Long Award and the AER Membership Award for her service and contributions to the education of children with visual impairments. She also received the Elizabeth Nolan O’Donnell Achievement Award for years of dedicated service to St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments. Explore Kathleen's complete biography for comprehensive insights into her background, expertise, and accomplishments.
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Cite This Page (APA): Kathleen M. Cleaver. (2023, May 1). Recognizing Children with Multiple Disabilities. Disabled World. Retrieved February 27, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/blogs/multiple-disabilities.php
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