Cross posted at Say Anything: Reader blogs.
I got to see the first graders at my sons' school put on a musical a few days ago. It was a delightful experience to watch the kids sing, dance, and belt out their lines on stage. Our neighbourhood elementary school has quite a few special needs students. They seem to do the best job at educating these students compared to other schools in the district. While there were no doubt students on stage with learning disabilities who could not be easily marked as such there were some students whose disabilities made them stand out in the crowd. I was glad to see them there.
In the past those students would never have had the opportunity to participate in anything as enjoyable as a school musical. They would have been shut away from view so as not to make the rest of the "normal" folk uncomfortable with their presence or burden themselves with the work of understanding them. These children would have been medicated into submission and left to languish in institutions or shut away at home by parents trying to protect them from a cruel and unbending world that feared them.
With the assistance of teachers, classmates, and assisted communication technology these students were able to sing and dance with their classmates. Even more encouraging their non-disabled classmates accepted their special classmates without rancor. Kids can seriously torment their peers for any perceived difference but when taught otherwise they can be quite angelic.
I wondered if any in the audience resented the time and resources that were spent to make these kids a part of the school community. If they did they kept their quiet about it. In any case a good time was had by all.