And Stimming With Rainbows of Every Design

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Rule That Shouldn't Be Followed

I was reading through archives of my old high school's newspaper and came across a statement that a student must be failing their classes in order to be 504 eligible. Disabled and have C's? Too bad, no accommodations for you.

When I went there just last year, my 504 plan wasn't thrown out because my GPA was too high. I was able to get my first 504 in middle school despite having received A's in every class except for Ceramics.

Now as I read the laws, it seems like they're biased against letting students with high GPAs receive accommodations. As long as we look fine on the surface everything is okay. Right?

No. The student who looks fine on the surface might be crashing every day after school. They may be unable to have meaningful conversation for hours after they get home. They may be living with chronic pain as a result of constant overload. They may be near-unable to participate in any non-paper-based academic activity, just getting shuffled along because their reputation is protected by their more academic work. They may be doing all this and still have the veneer of success.

That was my life from grades seven through ten. (Elementary was in a neat, ultra-tiny autie-friendly school). There's no grade eleven. I had to quit.

Even having to quit furthers the illusion of success. I'm a junior college student now, so the reaction is some sort of, "Look at you, look how accomplished, you skipped the last two years of high school, aren't you brilliant!!!"

No. That's not it. I want to throw away the coating of success, make people see the truth. I'm not in junior college because of a personal preference. Despite any illusions to the contrary, the system failed me just about as much as it failed any typical drop out.

If a 504 Plan or an IEP will help a student get what they need to make the educational system accessible without a later crash, then they should get it. It wouldn't have helped me (I had too many communication problems for listed accommodations to work for me, and too many communication problems to state proper accommodations, so I was stuck.), but for those it can help, it should be accessible. It shouldn't matter whether or not the person looks good on paper.

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  • I don't know anything at all about the US educational system, so i don't know what things like 504 plans are or what age "grades" correspond to, but i think i get the gist of your post, and agree with it.

    I feel that the school system failed me, despite scoring top out of my whole middle school on the 12-plus grammar school entry test, getting 11 GCSEs over half of which were A* grades, and getting 2 As and a B in my A-levels. I also feel that the university system failed me, despite me (somehow) ending up with a first class degree. Explaining this is extremely difficult...

    I also don't feel like *any* of those educational acheivements are in any way whatsoever related tomy worth as a person (whether or not i am able to feel at a given moment that i *have* any worth as a person). And i still don't feel like an "intellectual" - i always feel that 90% of people i meet, even though the likelihood is that they ranked "lower" academically than me, can utterly run rings round me in reasoning and debate - so it mystifies me how i managed to *get* such high educational qualifications, really.

    I feel more kinship with someone with a learning disability who went to a special school and never even had the opportunity to do GCSEs than with most university graduates...

    By Blogger shiva, At 6:10 AM  

  • I'm also not familiar with the system but my story is quite similar. I was thrown out of elementary school and had been accepted to a relatively new program in the local high school which provided the last two years of elementary school education as well as regular high school years. It's not a perfect place, but certainly better than daily physical abuse that I received in elementary school. Now I'm preparing to graduate and (of course) continue my journey to a university, and when people hear that I'm in this class, they are flattered and they say "you must be brilliant" or some bullshit like that. It's true that I can (and do) excel at everything until numbers or social/communicative skills are needed, but in recess I'm just sitting frozen, trying helplessly to block out all the noise. BUT, and this is a very important thing, those who are great at communication, debate, seduction, lying, etc., are likely to be a LOT less competent academically. ("If it was for you socialites, we'd still live in caves talking to each other." - Grandin)

    By Blogger Meredith, At 9:28 AM  

  • Greetings!
    My name is Sarah Edwards, and I am an Aspie (a.k.a. I have Asperger’s Syndrome) and I am a medical student.

    I am working with another medical student, Sara Dungavell, on an ethics project about the meaning of words. We are working under the supervision of an ethicist named Dr. Jeff Nisker. Sara and I noticed that the common meanings of the words, “human”, “fully-functional” and “normal”, as well as how the words related to each other, get used to keep people on the Spectrum separate from mainstream society. We think in part it is because the definitions come from people outside the community.

    We want to know how people within or associated with the Spectrum define these words for themselves, so we are asking some bloggers who are part of the Spectrum community if they would like to give us their own definitions. We found your blog, and that’s why we are e-mailing you and several other bloggers.

    Once we’ve gathered these new definitions, we plan on analyzing them for common themes about what “normal”, “human”, and “fully-functional” mean and how they are related to each other. We plan on presenting these definitions and analyses to other medical students and the academic community to try and get them thinking about people on the Spectrum differently.

    Attached to this email is a letter of information that explains what the project is about again, and then at the end it asks for your definitions of “normal”, “human” and “fully-functional”.

    Okay so obviously this is not the actual email but should you wish to participate please email me and I will send the actual email on.

    Please read the letter, and then if you want to help us by being part of the research, email us back your definitions and any comments you might have about them. There are no right answers, please just tell us what your definitions are of these words and what they mean to you. Also if you know anyone else who might want to contribute please feel free to email this letter to them too. Feel free to answer beyond the scope of the definitions if you wish or to answer only one or two of the definitions. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to know more about what we are researching, please email me and ask them.

    Thank you,
    Sarah Edwards

    M.D. Class of 2010
    Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry
    The University of Western Ontario

    By Blogger HedgehogMD, At 4:46 PM  

  • The schools here wouldn't let my daughter go to a quiet space to complete tests. When I asked if someone could go with her to proctor, they wouldn't allow it. They said that since she is a gifted child she shouldn't need any academic accommodations. So my dh and I homeschool now.

    By Blogger ChainingMagic, At 1:00 PM  

  • The law states that in order for a student to have a 504 plan, the disability must impact a major life function (learning is one). The federal legislation for special education specifies that a student can be progressing from grade to grade with passing grades and still be eligible for special education. Unfortunately, some school districts are not willing (or are unable) to communicate what the law says, so parents and students themselves need to become acquainted with regulations. Each state and US territory has a Protection and Advocacy group for individuals with disabilities. You can find out how to contact your state's P&A by going to Pete Wright at also has a very comprehensive web site regarding special education and Section 504.

    By Blogger Pam, At 4:24 PM  

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