Some eighth grade students said they viewed a website (http://www..pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/) in class that demonstrated what it might be like to have ADHD or dyslexia. They didn't realize how hard it would be for someone with those disabilities to concentrate and read. As the language arts teacher, I assigned my students a writing prompt asking them to tell which disability they think they could best cope with if they were to have one. The responses were interesting. In one class, many students said they would choose not being able to walk. They wanted to be able to still have the senses of sight and hearing, and they knew there were still sports that could be played while in a wheelchair. In another class, many people said they would choose being deaf because they could communicate through sign language and still be able to get around. Of course, no one would actually want to have any disability, but they all realized that they could make adjustments to cope with it if they did.
The Jackson Drama Club came to Immaculate Conception to present a play to the fourth and fifth graders from Immaculate Conception and St. Paul. When asked if she enjoyed it, Katie Hanners, a fifth grader, said, "Yeah, it was fun!" She said the play taught them "you shouldn't make fun of people and call them names or sort them into groups." Katie says that this week made her more aware of people with disabilities. While outside of school, she noticed a man who was missing an arm. She said he appeared to easily be doing his job. If she had not had to go without using her arms to pass the ball in P.E. class this week, she might not have thought about the fact that it might be hard for people with disabilities to perform their job.
While we are all aware that disabilities exist, we may not realize that we might walk right past someone without knowing that they couldn't hear us coming up behind them or maybe they can't read the sign on the street corner. This week, these students were reminded of that. Hopefully, they will carry this lesson with them and remember that people with disabilities can adapt and fit in. They're like everyone else; they just have to learn to do some things in different ways. So, why not celebrate those differences?