"Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with develop mental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities." (Kingsley)
Isn't that a peculiar statement; that there was even an assumption that those with disabilities were commonly believed to not be able to live "normal" lives? To me this statement speaks volumes. Some things obviously speak louder than others but the point stands; in order to get rid of a stereotype the issue itself has to be addressed.
First off, the notion that a person can not enjoy a full life or even academic challenges if they'd like. The case with Mia Petersen is especially alarming.
"I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special ed. almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, 1 wanted to cry. " (Peterson)
I believe the most striking thing would be the fact that she had to go back to school after she had already graduated to take the classes she wanted to take. Now I'm all for not having students pushed beyond their limits, but that should be up to the student to decide and no one else. It's frustrating to hear as a student myself that in order to take the classes she found interesting she had to go back when she could have taken them while she was in school. To be held back because of a misconception is a tragedy within itself. It's cruel, unfair, and quite frankly ignorant on the part of the educators.
Now of course it doesn't end with just the teachers. The idea that students with disabilities are viewed any differently than students that don't is a mistake. It's a view that people are trying to fight, as they should be. The view of "Citizenship in Schools" is an interesting concept because of the very definition of the word and the water it holds. The idea that "citizenship" is built upon listening rather than spoken word is, to me, key to having an equal citizenship in schools. The viewpoint of students in schools needs to be the same for each individual attends, and by following the standpoint of the community in the school, it can start easier than any other way.
So what can be done to prevent this from happening in the future? It's simplistic in concept, however because of misguided stigmas it may be more difficult. The problem can not be solved if it is not addressed, plain and simple. People need to learn that not every situation is the same, and if a student with a disability wants to take on a difficult class they should be given a chance to do so. They are, after all, students and they should be allowed to choose the classes they wish to take and feel good in doing so.