As numerous people have stated before, “if you want to understand someone, take a walk in their shoes. “ From this, one is not able to truly comprehend the feelings someone may have or how many difficulties a person endeavors on a day-to-day basis, unless they spend time with them. The topic that I helped research as a group for our senior project was how students with special needs cooperate with others like them, and then how they interact with people in society that do not have these needs.
While researching this project, I kept one question in mind, what similarities and differences occur with these children when they are brought into these situations with new people. Through our mentor, we were able to interact with the special needs children at our school, one by observing from a distance, not to interfere with how they may regularly go about their school day, and then engaging in the tasks of assisting the students with whichever task they had at hand.
Numerous children each year are born with disabilities that classify them with needing certain attention in various areas unlike children who do not have these needs. The statistics show that 1 out of every 5 children born will have some sort of impairment that requires the attention of a specialist in that disability. However, until one has been through the types of activities those children have been, it is quite difficult to learn how it is to have these disabilities, and how socializing with others that they are not familiar with can be altered from how one would normally act around others of the same needs.
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Most of these children are nervous or shy themselves away from regular students at the school, mostly because they either don’t want to try to make friends with them or that they are too afraid that they might be criticized for how they truly are. When our mentor, Mrs. Rang was interviewed, we asked her a series of questions to try to get a better understanding of how these children are, and what she thought of our idea for a possible senior project. Through this interview, we we’re able to find out numerous things about how things in the classroom work for these students.
For instance, when asked how often and when the students interacted with students unlike them at the school, we were given the answer of that the interactions were very limited, these times came during physical education classes, bake sales, and fundraisers. Additionally, we also were informed on how well the children cooperate with each other in the classroom, and it was apparent that there was almost a family-like bond between the children. However, based on research, some children with disabilities have a fear of reaching out to socializing with others.
These fears can come about from numerous sources, either through mostly experience or what can be seen or heard through the media. The most powerful source of getting news across the world is through the media, where within the chaos, numerous stories are said to be factual, when only the story is false, and people will only read it if it is intriguing to society. One of these stories includes how children with disabilities are being treated at a certain institute in Canton, Massachusetts, by using shock therapy.
Whether or not these reports are true does not matter to the reporters, however if a child with special needs sees this story, it would result in them only wanting to surround themselves with other children that are like them due to the safety they may feel with them. Bullying is another form of socialization that may trigger the child’s abilities to break out of their shell and interact with others. With many children feeling like that they won’t be accepted due to their disabilities, their socialization skills deplete and children become more introverted.
However, there are numerous websites and books that are help to assist one with their child’s needs in order for them to benefit from the factors of regular children. Certain aspects like greeting a new person everyday will allow them to not be intimidated by the children that are not like them. With proper guidance and support, these children with disabilities can be able to interact with other children unlike them in a comfortable environment. Furthermore, it has been seen in many instants where children with disabilities are able to interact with similar children with ease than to that of others.
A variety of reasons can be held accountable for this explanation, such as how much time is spent with comparable children, and the emotions that are felt during these time periods. For example, during our interview, our mentor was able to inform us on how caring the children are for one another, which I feel takes into account where they spend the majority of their day in school together, and those students are the children that they interact with almost everyday.
Additionally, many will say that the more time you spend with a person, the more you get to know them and care for them, which is proof with these children. Some however, may not want to branch out and socialize with other children, which even though I feel these students would benefit from the experience, people can not be pressured into something they are not comfortable doing. When doing this sort of project, there are certain risks and learning experiences that come with the opportunity we were presented with.
In order to fully commit myself to this project, a certain level of commitment and connection had to be made with the task at hand. Before this project was assigned, I had volunteered time at the Nursing Home where there are numerous patients with disabilities that after listening to their stories, had numerous troubles growing up. It was evident that just like the children now, some wanted to socialize with others, while some rather stay locked up in their rooms all day in a groggy mood.
As a result, it inspired me to find out why people with disabilities are sometimes stubborn to interact with others, while still establishing friendships with those who desired companionship in the home, especially those who made connections with others who had similar disabilities. Due to the level of this project, there were also numerous risks and successions that are related to the action of the assignment. After discussing that the group desired to work with the special needs children in Mrs. R & Mr.
Dami’s class, we knew that we did not want the students to feel like they were just an assignment, where they would only be talked to for a month or two, and then once the class was over, the connection that was made would slowly disappear. If that was the case, no one would benefit from this project, I knew that we had to make sure that we got to know the students, how their personalities were, what their interests are, and other such aspects. The risk being taken was that when going into this project, we were not aware of how the students might feel with us being in their classroom.
Being uncomfortable in a safe environment is one of the factors that we as a group wanted to make sure would not happen, however studying their behavior with others would allow us to benefit for the task at hand. Success would be able to be achieved, only if our interactions were carried out properly. From this, our success would be finding out the difference between the socialization that children with disabilities use when they are surrounded with different people. Moreover, failure would also be expected when we were spending time with the children because as Benjamin Disraeli once said, “ All my successes have been built on my failures”.
From this, we were not expecting perfection the first time we met the children, but hopefully, a bond would slowly start to form between us and eventually they would become more comfortable to talk to us when they ever saw in the hallways or during lunches. This is able to relate to civics, where from our education throughout the years in socializing with others, not bullying, and always making other feel welcome, we are able to take the lessons that we have already learned, and apply them to the task at hand and hopefully make new friends along the way.
The experiences that I have had so far have been very beneficial to not only me, but my group as a whole. We were able to discover that some of the children with special needs wanted friends, but were too afraid to due to lack of socializing when they were younger. On another note, some children were able to talk to anyone that was willing to listen, while others unfortunately did not wish to make new friends than the ones that they already had currently in the classroom. Different personalities were able to shine through while we visited the students during different blocks, and friendships were able to begin being built.
However, more information on why parents and others do not try to socialize their children with disabilities would be helpful when working on this project, however, the best is being made with the research we have. Throughout the experience however, it reminded me of being with the patients at the nursing home, as if those patients younger selves were able to interact with me now, and it was able to give my more insight into their everyday lives, even though I may not have been able to walk a mile in them.
To end off though with these friendships and the positive effects they will hopefully have on these children, as Francis Bacon once stated, “This communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth grief’s in half”. Where joy is able to be experienced by those who enjoy the companionship of a good friend, and the grief they may have suffered is no longer that big of a burden for them to handle.
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