Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bullying a 'Benefit' of Inclusion

I just found a quote in a book that makes me angry. The book is Schooling without Labels, by Douglas Biklen. At one point, he quotes a parent to illustrate one of the 'benefits' of inclusion:

"I think no matter how severely retarded or handicapped kids are, they are not dumb. I think they really can perceive themselves in relation to other people around them. Peers exert a lot of pressure on each other. Some of that is positive and some of it is negative. I have heard kids in Ben's class say to him when he is doing something that looks dumb, 'That looks dumb.' Now he may repeat [the statement] 'that looks dumb,' but he is also more likely to stop. If kids stay away from him because he is doing something that looks stupid or hurtful, he is aware of that; he doesn't like to be alone. So he will make the effort to try to stop because he wants to be with the kids."

What is good about that? So he may try harder not to self-injure (one of the 'dumb-looking' things this boy did). He is also learning to hate himself and strive to become someone he will never be. This is an extremely damaging lesson to learn and in fact should be considered a disadvantage of inclusion.
Because of bullying, I lost my pride in my physical abilities. I'm flexible and can sprint well, but I have poor hand-eye coordination and balance, can't coordinate my movements with other people or other external things, and tire easily. I never felt bad about that when I was young and in fact enjoyed physical education class and got plenty of exercise. Now, whenever I try to exercise, I feel ashamed of myself - so I avoid exercizing.
Because of bullying, I learnt to supress emotional expression. When my brother is annoying me, I show no reaction until I reach my limit and yell at him. When you are around people who care about you, hiding your emotions harms you and them. The only way it is ever helpful is that when you are being bullied, it can shield you from some harm sometimes.
Because of bullying, I am scared to stim in public. I talk to myself a lot, but I automatically lower my voice or fall silent when someone else comes near. I supress excitement rather than jump and flap my hands, which is my natural expression of excitement. As a result, I don't feel the excitement. I automatically put on an NT front when I'm talking to any non-adult older than 10 or so, unless they're disabled enough that I don't think of them as teenagers. This front means not talking about anything that actually interests me (or else I'll 'talk too much'), being evasive about things like why I'm homeschooled or whether I have crushes, and many other things. It is exhausting to put up this front and it means I can't develop a true friendship or really care about that person.
And this is supposed to be a benefit of inclusion?

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