National Special Education Day is December 2nd of every year. It marks the anniversary of our nation’s first federal special education law, which President Gerald Ford signed on December 2, 1975. This law is the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is also known as IDEA.
National Special Education Day holds a special place in my heart because I was born with cerebral palsy, which caused me to be placed in special education throughout my years of attending public school.
Throughout my time in special education, I have come across some of the best teachers. They have truly impacted my life to this very day as a young adult. Thanks to their dedication to my needs, I am now attending college and am an author and an advocate for the cerebral palsy community.
Here are five reasons why we need to celebrate National Special Education Day in honor of students, administration, and teachers who make special education classes possible for students with special needs.
1. We need to end the misconceptions about disabilities
People have many misconceptions about students with disabilities. Many people believe that living with a disability prevents students from being able to achieve their academic goals. You don’t know many times people have stereotyped me based on my disability and automatically assume I can’t do anything. However, once they get to know me they see my strengths. We also need to address the inappropriate labels students in these classes have. You don’t how many times my friends in mainstream classes would say ”Tylia, why are you in special education classes if you’re not stupid?”
2. We need to thank our teachers
The teachers and staff who help students with different types of disabilities, ranging from spina bifida to autism, and ADHD, are brave. They go through a lot on a day-to-day basis to make sure students have the proper education. Throughout the school year I know there are many days throughout the school year when they could become extremely frustrated, but they take the time to teach students like me so that we can have a proper education.
3. We need to thank our fellow students
The students who take special education classes are unique and amazing. Throughout my time in special education classes, I met some of my best friends, many of whom have multiple disabilities. One of my friends was from Haiti. I taught him how to read since he wasn’t able to read English due to his learning disabilities. To this day, we are close. These kinds of students continue to show a positive light in these classes by helping others, and creating strong friendships.
4. We need to thank our advocates
Advocates help and support parents through the journey of having a special needs child in the special education program. No doubt, it can be a difficult journey from both a student standpoint and a parent standpoint. From the IEP meetings to finding the right direction to go when it comes to your special needs child education, disability life can be very confusing at times. So, kudos to all the advocates who have made a difference in our lives.
Now that I’ve listed the 4 reasons why we should celebrate National Special Needs Day, I would love to thank all special education teachers who serve our community and our schools every day! You all make our lives so much brighter and fuller, and I am truly thankful for the impact you have had on my life.
Photo via Netflix’s Atypical