Thursday, September 09, 2010

Special Needs

A friend showed me a class list the other day, covered up the kids' surnames with a piece of paper and challenged me to say whether it was a top or bottom set just by looking at the first names.

Top Set, Bottom Set is the easiest game in the world and it took me about three seconds to announce that it was the bottom set (Kay-Tee and Colt for example are hardly likely to be anywhere else). What did surprise me was that out of 19 pupils, 15 had some sort of label ie ADHD, ADD Aspergers, School phobic, etc.

Now I know that since virtually all the special schools have been closed down, large numbers of children with all kinds of 'special needs' have been dumped into mainstream education where we can't cope with them. Their parents are very keen on this, saying that they want their child to integrate, which is fair enough, but often doesn't work. Most teachers have no special needs training and aren't really interested- they just want to teach their subject to children with a reasonable range of abilities and behaviour, which is after all what they signed up for in the first place. You don't see Lee throwing a tantrum (and a handful of test tubes) on these teaching adverts, do you?

I just can't help but wonder how many of these conditions have a genuine medical basis and how many are simply down to the child never having been shown how to behave and actually made to, rather than just being asked politely (Parents do seem genuinely afraid of being seen to control their child in public nowadays and you see comedy moments in every park or supermarket, where a fed up adult is trying to reason with a naughty three year old, rather than just giving them a good smack and telling them not to do it again. No doubt the same happens at home).

The cynic in me also firmly believes that the number of 'rich world diseases' will continue to rise for ever more as drug companies dream up new and profitable mind altering drugs to sell to us.


Anonymous said...

By and large, any 'special need' of the form Disorder or Syndrome is a diagnosis made by a doctor to get the child's parent out of the surgery before they start shouting "Are you saying I can't look after my kids" and thump them.

Anonymous said...

I'll try again with different brackets.

By and large, any 'special need' of the form {description of the child's bad behaviour} Disorder or {description of the child's bad behaviour} Syndrome is a diagnosis made by a doctor to get the child's parent (just his mother normally) out of the surgery before they start shouting "Are you saying I can't look after my kids" and thump them.

Anonymous said...

very often, the parents and carers of those with letters behind their name (dys-this, that, the-other) receive generous carers allowances....

Mark H Wilkinson said...

Join us next week on Radio Reactionary, when Frank Chalk will pose the question: "Mental illness: is it all in the mind?"

cheeky chappy said...

Totally agree with you Frank, we need to go back to the days of kids being seen but not heard. You don't reason with a child. They need to be taught that you are the adult (therefore that means you have the power and authority) and they are the child (the one without the power) and whether they like it or not, they should bloody well do as they are told.

I know what you mean regarding the park/supermarket senario. You see adults reasoning with children and treating them as equals, thus giving the child the impression that they are equal to adults. When I was that age, if I misbehaved in a public place I got a damn good smack, it hurt and it left me in no doubt as to who was in charge (and it sure as hell wasn't me) it also got the message across that I had better not behave like that again. It worked far better.

pjt said...

Oddly enough, my experience of what works is quite different from the previous comments.

When I see kids who are disturbed and who disturb others, it is common that they have not been treated as equals, they are just given a smack. Or they have been just ignored. They haven't been heard.

And when I see kids who behave properly and do well at school, they have been treated as real people (although not in every way as equals to their parents, who are still responsible for them). They have been heard, not only seen. They have been tolerated, or more than that, loved.

Thus, I don't really think that giving a smack really helps. What helps is that the parents care, all the time, and that they can give time and attention to their children.

Fee said...

When I was in primary school, one of my classmates had the attention span of a gnat. These days, he'd be labelled, possibly drugged, and stuck in a corner with a classroom assistant.

This being the 70s, he was belted on a regular basis until he learned to sit still and shut up. His parents allowed the school to deal with him as they saw fit. He's now a responsible citizen, who's served his country for the last 20-odd years in the army. They must keep him permanently occupied because he still has the attention span of a gnat, but he knows how to do what he's told.

Kim said...

PJT, I don't think anybody is suggesting that children should be ignored all the time (although it certainly works if they are throwing a tantrum)
But do you really think that adults should treat children as equals? They quite clearly aren't- they need to be taught to do as they are told because that is what will help them learn in school. The ones that can't do as they're told just muck about and get nowhere. What's wrong with a smack when they don't do as they are told. Is that really considered so radical now?
If its wrong, how come young people behave so much worse than they used to do?

Dack said...

In my experience kids not only behave better and learn more, but also prefer it when they know who's boss (ie me).

Anonymous said...

Spot on Frank (as usual).

Kids are not equals pjt, they are just that; 'Children,' which means they need; the love, time, and care of adults, but also they need to be taught; self-respect, respect for others, discipline, the difference between right and wrong, and that bad behaviour brings negative consquences.

Myself and my wife, love our six year old little girl dearly, but we are not afraid to smack her if her behaviour warrants it, but because this chastisement takes place in the context of a loving home, with caring parents, it bares fruit:

She is happy, well-adjusted, good-natured, and well behaved at school.

Why? Becasue we take the time and trouble to teach her right from wrong: She once through an unholly pady in front of about two thousand christmas shoppers in a busy city centre - she went over my knee there and then!

By contrast I will quite happily spend all afternoon with her kicking a football around, playing hide and seek, or taking her swimming or to the park:

It's all about context.

Anonymous said...

And if you smack them in public some busybody will report you for assaulting a child.