Over the weekend the New York Times ran a great piece by Ben Mattlin, author of the book Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity, in the article Mr. Mattlin discloses how people often mistake him for someone else, who often (apart from being in a wheelchair) look completely different than him. “What’s really funny is when people don’t take no for an answer. “Oh, come on. You are that guy! Or at least you know him, right?”” wrote Mr. Mattlin.
In a separate story, posted on the Washington Post’s website on Saturday, Jay Mathews reported on how teachers in Heather Hills Elementary School had refused to check a girl with ADHD’s bag before she left for home. Under Section 504 of the federal laws, schools should assign a teacher to check a child with ADHD’s backpack before she leaves the school, making sure she all her materials for homework.
The girl’s mother, Tracy Thompson said that the teachers refusal to check her daughter’s bag, has lead to tears and unfinished homework. Some of the main characteristics of having ADHD is trouble with organization. Ms. Thompson said that one teacher told her, ““I do not and will not take responsibility for packing [the child’s] book bag.” Presumably, the same teacher wouldn’t refuse helping a wheelchair using student up a ramp, emphasizing the ignorance inherent in this–almost embarrassingly simple–case.
These are just two stories from the weekend, which tell us that basic ignorance about disability, still reigns in some parts.