March 24 2009 Children with Special Needs Newsletter
Peer Mentoring Programs and Childhood Disability
Children with disabilities as well as their mainstream peers benefit from being included in peer mentoring and buddy programs in schools and community recreation.
Many advocates believe that if our country's leaders had grown up knowing their peers with developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions, and other special needs, the issues that reduce our sons and daughters' opportunities and inclusion would not be the mysteries they seem to be.
This was especially apparent following our dear President's thoughtless reference to Special Olympics while chatting with Jay Leno on national television.
"... “President Obama called last night and expressed his regret and he apologized. He said that he did not intend to humiliate Special Olympics athletes or people with intellectual disabilities. He was sincere and heartfelt, and said that he is a fan of our movement and is ready to work with our athletes to make the United States a more accepting and welcoming country for all people with special needs.
“Words hurt and words matter. Words can cause pain and result in stereotypes that are unfair and damaging to people with intellectual disabilities. And using 'Special Olympics' in a negative or derogatory context can be a humiliating put-down to people with special needs.
“This is a teachable moment for our country. We are asking young people, parents and leaders from all walks of life to engage in conversation and help dispel negative caricatures about people with intellectual disabilities. We believe that it’s only through open conversation and dialogue about how stereotypes can cause pain that we can begin to work together to create communities of acceptance and inclusion for all. ..."
Although President Obama did issue an apology, numerous articles and news stories followed that demonstrated the shortcomings of some journalists and television personalities who defended the statement and condemned the efforts of those who explained just how deeply casual remarks affect both individuals and advocates, especially from the President of the USA. Some of the responses were based on articles and editorials defending the original comment and misreporting the actual apology, causing misdirected anger at President Obama, whose remark was enough to fuel their outrage without help from those who have wasted their potential for compassion.
Equally distressing were those who took advantage of the situation to promote political agendas and disturbing propaganda. Surely the 'teachable moment' should benefit most those individuals with developmental disabilities who bear the burden of prejudice and discrimination.
Some of the more thoughtful discussion was in Terri Mauro's blog, including:
"What if he said, “I throw like a girl”?"
Also of note, from a mother who believes both the remark and the (frequently misreported) apology show that President Obama 'doesn't get it' is posted at:
Read more about the response and ongoing advocacy through Special Olympics at:
Special Olympics - Changing Attitudes
"... Special Olympics has been in the news recently since U.S. President Barack Obama made a joke comparing his bowling score with that of Special Olympics athletes, a remark he apologized for within minutes. What President Obama knows is that the work of Special Olympics is vital, purposeful and effective. ..."
On 3-31, End the Word
"It is time to “Spread the Word to End the Word” and on 31 March 2009 Special Olympics is calling for a national day of awareness for America to stop and think about their use of the R-word. That R-word is not “recession,” but something more hurtful and painful – “r#t@rd.”
Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur.
Spread the Word to End the Word will raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourage people to pledge to stop using it. America will be asked to declare their support for more respectful and inclusive language, specifically that referring to those with intellectual disabilities.
Created by young people with and without intellectual disabilities, Spread the Word to End the Word is one element of Special Olympics’ vision of a world where everyone matters, where everyone is accepted and, most importantly, where everyone is valued. Leading the way in promoting acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics opposes prejudice and discrimination, continuously working to dispel the negative stereotypes associated with this population — the use of the R-word being one such stereotype. In a world that has worked to eliminate pejorative racial and ethnic language such as the “N word,” among others, the R-word is gaining popularity.
On 31 March, young people across the country will lead local efforts to raise awareness and collect pledges on www.r-word.org from peers and the community to vow not to use the R-word. Actor and activist John C. McGinley, of the hit show “Scrubs,” is helping with this effort by making national media appearances on behalf of the campaign. On 2 March 2009, he appeared on "The Bonnie Hunt Show."
Send us your plans to Spread the Word at email@example.com. After 31 March, let us know how your Spread the Word event went. Send a report, photos and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Pledge your support - March 31, 2009
Spread the Word to End the "R" Word
Please visit specialneedschildren.bellaonline.com for other content of interest to families, educators, health professionals and advocates for children with developmental disabilities, chronic health conditions, and other special needs.
Inclusion Benefits Classmates
Friendship and Inclusion for Children with Special Needs
Recess Skills and Childhood Disability
A Special Olympian's Road to Gold
Inclusive P.E. and Childhood Disability
Transition Planning for Teens with Disabilities
Anxiety and Childhood Disability
Literacy Skill Development - Reading Instruction
for Children with Autism, Down Syndrome
and Learning Disabilities
Diabetes Information for Classmates
Symptoms of Childhood Onset Diabetes
Down Syndrome and Diabetes Dual Diagnosis
Faith, Religion, and Childhood Disability
Spring and Easter Craft Ideas
Easter and Childhood Disability
Teaching Home Addresses to Children
Early Diagnosis of Autism - Infants and Toddlers
Amazon Kindle 2 and Childhood Disability
Multiple Births and Childhood Disability
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Snapshots and Children with Delayed Language
Teaching Handwriting to Children
Cutting with Scissors and other Fine Motor Skills
Teaching Children About Money
Teaching Math Skills
IEP Preparation - Teacher Support
Universal Design for Learning - Access
to General Education Curriculum
Mothering Babies with Special Needs
Aversive Restraints and Seclusion in School
Preparing for Emergencies - Children with Special Needs
Severe Weather Events and Children with Special Needs
Winter Challenges for Children with Special Needs
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