Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Posts Tagged ‘school’

Jul
18

Recruiting People With Multiple Disabilities For The Military

By Rainy on July 18th, 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

          The young man’s name is Joshua Fry and he has been diagnosed as Autistic.  He was living in a group home at the time of his enlistment; in fact, it is alleged that a Marine recruiter picked him up from the home and took him to the recruitment center to enlist.  The background of the story, as I understand it, is that this young man was born to parents who allegedly abused drugs.  He was diagnosed as being Autistic, as a young child.   Joshua was allegedly abused as a child and he had learning disabilities.   He struggled in school and had allegedly developed a relationship with a military recruiter.  Joshua got himself into trouble allegedly for stealing and having a weapon; and, he was sent away to a treatment facility for counseling. 

           In the meantime, Joshua’s grandmother had custody of him and allegedly told the Marine recruiter to take Joshua’s name off of the call list as he was “not Marine material”.   It would have been easy enough to check that out by following up with the school administrators.  Those words should have been the end of any active pursuit of Joshua, as a person to be considered as a Marine recruit.

        For a recruiter to continue to persue an individual like Joshua; it should be considered a crime.  Many special needs people would love to be in the military; however, the nature of the job requires quick thinking, reliable decision making every time, the ability to use good judgement, and, to exhibit character traits that would be of an elevated level compared to the average individual.   Some individuals able-bodied or not, no matter how how they try, are not going to be able to perform at those levels and meet those responsibilities.  It is important that those in the military be able to do so because lives depend on it!

            For many people with multiple special needs…being able to make fast, quality decisions regarding the safety and well-being of themselves, as well as others, is difficult; even under normal circumstances, but if you add into the mix, the stress and chaos of a war situation, it could be a dangerous combination.  It is heartbreaking to have someone want to serve who just may not be qualified to do so because of a physical, emotional, or developmental disability.   But encouraging that same individual to go ahead and sign up should be criminal…it is not in the best interest of that individual, the military personel who work alongside of them, or the families who love and support them, to the best of their abilities.

         It is being alleged that when Joshua got out of the facility and entered the group home; he had re-established a relationship  with the recruiter.  If it is true that the grandmother had spoken to those at the recruiting station and told them of the problems with Joshua…that should have been the end of any attempts to recruit him.   If that recruiter had the knowledge of the problems that Joshua struggled with; he should not have allowed Joshua to sign up. 

            Joshua’s grandmother had the courts approval to be his legal conservator.  Basically, meaning that he was not able to sign most legal documents because he wasn’t able to completely understand the legal consequences in doing so.   He had a low IQ, he was diagnosed as Autistic, bi-polar, asthmatic, he had learning disabilities and he had also been treated in an in-patient environment.  For all of those reasons and more…he should never have been a candidate for service in the Marine Corps. 

         Once he got to boot camp, he found himself in over his head.  He got in trouble for stealing food, for disrespecting authority, and, he was not following orders.  He told those in positions of authority that he didn’t want to be a Marine and told them of his history.  They agreed he shouldn’t be there after talking to his grandmother; but, instead of sending him home he was allowed to graduate boot camp.  Months later, he was found to have pornographic photos on his cell phone…disciplined and instructed to not do it again.   He failed and again was found to be in possession…this time with child pornography.    What he did is wrong definately, does he understand that?  That is the question…does he know what he did is wrong; and, is he capable of understanding that his actions have legal consequences?

           He was arrested and is being held on a variety of charges that he probably does not understand and is incapable of avoiding committing over and over again in the same military environment that he should never have been allowed to enter in the first place.   For heaven’s sake, this is an individual that was living in a supervised setting because of issues relating to the impulsive behaviors associated with his disabilities that didn’t allow him to live independently.  How in the world is he expected to fulfill his commitment to the military?  What will happen to Joshua and others like him?  What kind of legal discipline will he be forced to accept?  Will he be dismissed from service and returned to a supervised group home setting or will he be in the prison system?  

          While some disabilities allow individuals to perform many tasks related to military life…there is no guarantee that those are the only situations in which they will be needed to perform in.  We have to be very careful about making decisions regarding allowing those with disabilities into the military.  Their very lives could depend on it. 

           Recruiters are expected to persuade prospects to sign on the dotted line and become a member of our military service.  However, people with documented low IQ’s, learning disabilities or medical or emotional issues that would prevent them from performing their duties in a safe and timely manner should not be “encouraged to join up”.  This feels a little like it is taking advantage of someone’s lack of understanding.  It is an unfair advantage to have knowledge that they could be put into situations that are not within their capabilities of handling appropriately; and, still encourage them to join the service.

          We are in a time of war, men and women are needed to serve.  However, it is wrong to recruit people who are at a disadvantage intellectually, physically or emotionally.  This issue is going to become more of a problem because of some changes being made to the educational requirements across our nation.  Many special education students are caught between a rock and a hard place with the raising of educational requirements to graduate.  Many of them will no longer be allowed to get a diploma…they will be getting a certificate of completion instead.  Some of them will have to go to high school for 5-6 years, as the additional requirements are phased in.  This is already resulting in many students either dropping out of high school or choosing to get a GED.   Many more will try to seek a position with the military because of the lack of jobs available for special needs persons.  Just because someone is disabled or has special needs doesn’t mean that they are not patriotic; it doesn’t mean that they don’t want the respect that being in the military can give them.  Many would love an opportunity to be a hero for their country by serving.  This makes them vulnerable to outside influences when it comes to signing up.

         It is important that the Marine Corps does what is right in this situation for Joshua and others like him.   He was out of his element here; and, it should have been stopped by those in a position to do so before he ever signed on the dotted line and spent one day in boot camp.   Many eyes will be watching.  Parents, agencies, friends and educators…please be aware that your special needs students are vulnerable to the desire to serve their country.  It is admirable, but they are also vulnerable to recruiters who need to put people into the service and are more than willing to talk to your students in a way that makes them even more determined to serve; whether they are fully capable of doing the job safely, or not.

       What are your thoughts on these issues?

Jun
19

Educational Changes Are Coming To Special Education

By Rainy on June 19th, 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

        Our local school told us at the IEP’s this year, that with changes in special education requirements(sound like national or federal changes)…that students in the special education program are now being encouraged to pursue a certificate of completion, as opposed to a diploma, when a special education student nears the end of their high school career.  The reason being that for many of the students, the classes that they have already taken are not going to count towards graduation requirements.  Therefore, they will end up going to school longer.  For some students, it will mean that instead of 4 years of high school…they could end up attending classes in high school for up to six years.

        I think this is very unfair.  From what we have been able to understand so far, for those who insist upon a diploma as opposed to a certificate of completion…it will be almost impossible to attain.  In our school here in Michigan, the special education students will be blended into some regular education classes; and, then they will have what they are calling a workshop, which is supposed to be more like a 30 minute homestudy class, where they are supposed to get more help with problem classwork.  The issue is that many of those workshop teachers will be regular education teachers who are not trained to work with the special education students who require more help and in some cases specialized teaching techniques–something that will require more than 30 minutes time from a teacher who has to divide up those 30 minutes with a classroom of students who need help.

        This feels like a social experiment that is going to go horribly wrong.  I am frustrated because I have a child who is going to be caught up in the middle of these changes.  I have a son who also is a special education student who graduated in the last few weeks…he was able to get a diploma.  This is no small feat.  In this day and age of financial uncertainty, anything you can do to improve your employability is important…having a diploma is better for getting a job than a certificate of completion when it comes to getting hired.

        I was told by an administrative person that employers and schools of higher education are aware of these changes and are cooperating with these changes by honoring certificates of completion when it comes to going off to college or for getting jobs.  I do not believe this is true.  I firmly believe that most employers are unaware of these graduation requirement changes and will view a certificate of completion as being “less qualifying” for a job than a diploma. 

         First off, at this point…even many teachers and administrators are still trying to figure out exactly what all of these changes will mean for both staff and students.  Many parents of special education students are not understanding how these changes will impact their families.  It is the students who were already in high school and have completed a year or two or three towards graduation that are going to fall between the cracks.  I am already being told of students who were Juniors this year, who have discovered that this impacts when they will “graduate” and are dropping out of school because they do not wish to go to school for an additional year, or two longer, than they had expected.  When they also discover that many of them will not be able to get a diploma after all of their hard work….and will get something that appears to be less than a regular education student gets; I believe that even more students will drop out of school.

       This is devastating; special education students are already at a disadvantage in many areas socially and in the job market.  This is just one more (large) obstacle to having some level of independence and success.  There needs to be a public outcry at the injustice of it all…on a local level and on a larger scale.  Do you have any knowledge or experience with these changes?

The Faded Jeans(Blue) theme by Harry Fink is powered by Wordpress 3.4.1