So, I'm in a class this semester called SPED 7000 which is basically "Introduction to the Exceptional Learner". Ie, all students who have any kind of disability, physical, mental, emotional, etc.
Our assignment for today was:
How much experience do you have with individuals with disabilities?
What is your comfort level with people who have disabilities?
This was my answer:
While working in the hospital I frequently found myself dealing with the care of people who had any number of disabilities; for some they were physical or mental and there were others with emotional disabilities, and some who had more than one. These people all taught me valuble lessons about the rights that they have not only as patients, but also as individuals. Many times, there would be children in the pediatrics department, who had not yet been firmly diagnosed with a problem and while the nursing staff may know that there is a problem, it was these cases that required the most patience.
As I continued working with these children, I became more comfortable with them and with their parents. At first I felt slightly intimidated by the experience and the interactions that were required of me. However, I found that if I didn't know how to use a certain assistive device or what the patients were capable of, it worked out best, if I just simply asked them or their parents how best to help.
As an educator, I no longer have any feelings of being intimidated by their assistive devices or their diagnoses. My new intimidation comes in finding ways to be sure that I have educated students for whom, learning is a challenge. It is harder for me to feel as though I have been competent in my job as an educator and made sure that I have shared the pertinent information the best way possible so that I can give ALL of my students the education they deserve. Further, in the classes where I do have students with learning challenges or disabilities, I find I am more frustrated (and MUCH less patient) with the students who are "behavioral issues" or who have diagnosed behavioral disabilities. It's learning to balance these fears and issues that I am finding most challenging.