Unpublished Letter to the Editor

Three weeks ago, I sent a letter to the editor of our local paper.  It was not published.  I can only speculate why it was rejected.  Was it too personal for  a paper that is mainly about general thank you notes, or political fight for and against the proposed hockey rink? Was it because the information I included would have to be confirmed through other newspapers?   It might be that the paper is just not that interested in the part of population with  special needs.

It is true, the letter was as personal as all my calls on the matters mentioned in it.  I called Loyola Hospital, I called the sheriff in Maryland, I called the superintendent in Winthrop.  The patient relation office from Loyola called back.  The sheriff from Maryland called back personally.  The secretary of the superintendent from Winthrop, screamed that it was ” a personal matter”. The worst response of the three. Any way, this is the rejected letter:

To the Editor,
Since the beginning of the year, I read about three terrible events that concerned two children and one young adult with special needs.
Alex, 14 years old boy with special needs was kept for 19 days tied by wrists and ankles to his bed in emergency room in Loyola Hospital in Chicago.  No medical tests were performed during those 19 days..
Ethan, a 26 years old  man with special needs died of asphyxiation while being restrained by three security guards at the Regal movie theater in Maryland.
An unnamed student with special needs had a tape attached to his eyebrows and then pulled out by an unnamed special needs teacher from Winthrop. The teacher recorded this “event” on her cell phone and showed it to other teachers.
The common factor in each of these events was the fact that the professionals who should care for the most fragile members of the community demonstrated their inability to do so
I realized that my son, given his disability could be treated like Alex, Ethan, or an unnamed boy from Winthrop. I could easily point to a few incidents from the past when something terrible “almost” happened. ALMOST.
I  struggle to understand what went wrong and what could be done to prevent any of the tragedies from being repeated.  My first bitter conclusion is that although money are spent on educating children with many severe disabilities and make them members of their communities, the communities themselves do not learn how to accept and how to treat people who are different.
Because the communities, even the communities of providers, do not learn quickly or properly how to treat people like my son, it is crucial that my son learns more,learns better, and learns quicker how to fill the gap separating him from others. He has to learn how to communicate that something hurts.  He has to learn that he has to follow the rules.  He has to learn how the community works.  He has to learn how to respond to policemen, if they approach him.  He has to learn how to let others know that he has been abused.  He has to learn more, because the world around is not learning.
For children like mine, special education , if delivered properly, could be a life saving device.  If the special education is reduced to custodial care, light sort of babysitting, without thoughtful programming and diligent execution of the program, my son and many other children won’t get equipped with the tools for a simple survival.
For some children good special education means that they can graduate from college, for others it means that they can held a job, cook a meal, and write a check, for children like mine special education means that they can survive.
At this point I am not sure if my son can.

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1 Comment

  1. Jean

     /  May 1, 2013

    Many faiths promote loving acceptance of others, even those who are different and difficult to understand – as long as they do not harm others. I agree that our communities, even churches, do not consistently demonstrate acceptance, or understand how to work with people who are different, especially when they have limited/no language.


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