Today is my daughter’s last day as a special education teacher (SPED). She has two M.A. degrees one in SPED, the other in English (linguistics). She plans to use the second degree in a new job. Meanwhile she will begin a program of study this summer in Latin. She hopes eventually to teach Latin in a high school.
Connie asked that I not write about her experiences as a SPED teacher. They were quite painful, I think because of overbearing parents and paperwork. She is sad at leaving the field, but working 12 hours a day 6-7 days per week and dealing with threatening parents on top of it were too stressful. We don’t want her dropping dead (she suffers from HBP).
From the stories Connie has shared, I think some parents are very unrealistic about the abilities and capabilities of their children. This parental attitude makes it difficult for the child, difficult for the teacher, difficult for everyone. When kids don’t live up to parental expectations (to say nothing of the expectations of bureacrats), everyone suffers unnecessarily. Some folks actually think the US is Lake Woebegone where ALL the kids are above average.
I am her mother, so I am prejudiced, but I think Connie is a wonderful teacher. Others have the same opinion (her principal gave her a fine recommendation for her new job). What a shame she will not be a SPED teacher in the years to come, but good luck in your new endeavors Connie.
David and I have been fuming over the new Diagnostic Statistic Manual (DSM VI). Some professional groups like the APA say they will ignore it. Many childhood behaviors classified as “normal” in recent years are now listed as “mental illness.”
Looking at Mental Health from a Sociological perspective convinced me that much of what we determine as mental health is a social construct. In other words, Society determines what is healthy and what is not. There are no fixed categories here.
More and more, I have begun to think that biology, not sociology is at the root of mental health. True, some people have horrendous experiences, but not everyone who has a horrendous experience becomes a serial killer. Abused children do not automatically grow up to become abusers.
The largest mental health (or lack thereof) growth category in Children is Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Nobody can give me a solid definition of what these conditons are. Mostly, boys are diagnosed with ADD and then overprescribed mood-altering drugs to “calm” them.
I have witnessed both types of conditions in children I worked with when I taught school (they had been diagnosed), but I do not think that many of the kids diagnosed with these conditions today are truly Autistic or suffer from ADD…whatever that is.