Come and join me on the Firefly Community page, where I’m considering offering my friends some rather ‘scruffy hospitality’…
The first thing I read this morning was the news from Japan of an attack on a centre for the disabled, which has left nineteen dead. It is reported that the suspect had called for the euthanasia of disabled people, and is quoted as saying he wanted to rid the world of the disabled.
I don’t know offhand whether Japan has the death penalty for murder, but I know that In Britain, and many other countries, we do not, because (among other reasons) it is considered morally and ethically unacceptable to take a life.
Holland is another country that does not have the death penalty for murder, or any other crime. But it does allow for disabled babies to be euthanised up to sixty days after birth. Just think about that for a moment.
Here in Britain the law allows for babies prenatally diagnosed with a ‘disabling’ condition, even a moderate one, such as Down’s Syndrome, or Cleft Palate, to be aborted at any time up to birth; and there are many people who would think it perfectly acceptable to allow for the euthanasia of disabled individuals after birth also. And yet we do not have the death penalty for murderers – who have chosen to actively do harm in the world – even where the evidence is incontrovertible, or the suspect has confessed. Because the taking of life is not morally and ethically acceptable.
Just think about that for a moment.
It’s that time of year again – school report time. With my older children, I always joked that I would go through the report with my red editing pen, pick out all the typos and grammatical errors, and send it back marked out of ten. I often had a sneaking suspicion that some of the teachers hadn’t the vaguest notion who my child was, so they just wrote something non-commital, and open to interpretation, in the hope that it would sound approximately realistic.
I know most parents take school reports very seriously, and indeed they are meant to be a taken seriously, as an informed guide to your child’s progress, aptitudes, and ‘weaknesses’ that need addressing, but I always had a (possibly unhealthy) disrespect for teachers in my school days which does not seem to have abated in adulthood. But when it comes to Freddie’s school report, I can’t help chuckling at some of the comments, so much so that I’ve put the red pen away.
He attends a SEND school: it’s small, barely a hundred pupils in total, with only nine in Freddie’s class (and three staff). The focus is very much on individual progress. Reports are personal – you can tell that the teacher really knows your child, and all their quirks and funniosities.
Here are my favourite remarks from this year’s report:
But my best favourite has got to be this one:
Once again his school have made a point of noticing positive personal qualities that have nothing to do with academic achievement , but are very important in everyday life. Often people have a very negative preconception of SEND schools, but I think mainstream schools could learn a lot from the ethos of schools like Merryfields. Not all pupils are academic, but all have positive qualities, skills and aptitudes if you take the time to notice: and we should.
I will be resharing an old post about why I chose SEND school:
It’s always great when your child’s achievements are recognised and acknowledged by their school. I’m extra super pleased with the certificate that Freddie brought home today. I’m always saying to his big sister that many of her best qualities are ones which school does not assess or measure in any way. It seems Freddie’s school does celebrate and reward these qualities, though. Well done, Lovely Lad.
So, what is a ‘typical’ weekend like for a ‘Down’s Syndrome’ family? Well, for a start, it’s a lot better when you don’t refer to us in that way. We’re just a family who have a kid with an extra chromosome. It’s no biggie, that little extra; it doesn’t weigh anything, or climb up the curtains, and he doesn’t leave it lying around for people to trip over. For us, the average weekend looks something like this …
After all the time and trouble people have gone to over the centuries, to generate a whole storybook-full of plausible negative stereotypes — and we selfishly ignore them. Isn’t that just typical!