Special education students do more than what meets the eye


Madison Aboud

Love conquers all. Every person deserves to feel love and be appreciated.

Over the past three years of my life, I have worked with Autistic and special needs kids many times. I have helped in State College at their Autism Conference they host every year, and I have done my best to help students with these learning disabilities in school as well. 

According to Pewtrusts    16.8 percent of students in Pennsylvania are a part of special education classes. Within the Altoona school district, 22.7 percent of students are part of the special education programs Altoona has to offer. This means that out of the 7,265 students in the Altoona district, roughly 1,650 students within the district are in special education classes. 

Bullying is an issue a majority of students face at some point in their school careers. However, what seems to be forgotten is that students who are in special education classes also can be targets of bullying. 

Angelsense  states “ 50 percentof children with special needs are bullied at school.” They go on to say, “…children with special needs are often more likely to be bullied than their peers.” 

Although this is the case, it could also be stated not all special education students understand the true definition of bullying. However, they know enough about it to know it upsets and hurts them. That should be enough to call attention to whatever the situation may be. 

It also should be considered that many of the “popular kids” befriend special needs students, but they don’t always do it out of the kindness of their heart. Many choose to befriend these students either to be cruel to them, or to add to their popularity. It isn’t all of these students, but it is some. It is important to look out for these students as if they are close friends. At the end of the day, that is all they want to be. 

There are many efficient ways to control the amount of bullying that does happen, the first being to make the teacher aware of the situation. In most special education students’ cases, this should be able to take care of the issue in a fast and effective manner. 

Another way would be to make sure there is a place where these students can go where they feel safe. Whether this is a place they all enjoy, or a different place for each student, they should all be able to go somewhere that they feel comfortable and most importantly⸺safe. 

According to Stopbullying there are ample ways to stop any sort of bullying that appears not only in special education students’ lives, but all students. No one should have to live in constant fear of being harassed, and, no one has to go through the pain and suffering of being bullied alone. 

Special education students are some of the sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. In their eyes, everyone is equal. Race, gender and sexual orientation doesn’t matter. As a person, they will respect you no matter what. 

I recently became a member of the bocce ball team the school has just started. Although I have only known the other students on the team for a very short amount of time, I am confident when I say I could not have been luckier. Working with these students and getting to know them personally has been one of the best experiences I could ever have asked for.

In working with them; however, I have begun to realize how little recognition these amazing and unique individuals get. These students go on field trips, do the Special Olympics, run the coffee cart, form relationships, are Sparkle cheerleaders and do so much more. But none of that gets recognized throughout the school. 

Even the school newspaper has very few stories about the special education students and what they do in and out of school. Even from the little amount of time I have known them, I can say they do more for the school than anyone gives them credit for. 

These students are some of the hardest working, kindest, most loving souls I’ve ever met. If I were to be asked: “Who have you learned the most from in your life?” I would say these students. 

Sparkle cheerleaders always bring a massive smile to the crowd’s face when they perform at football games. The students who run the coffee cart with the help of their aids, create a pleasant area where other students can go to grab a drink or have a quick chat with friends. 

These students go above and beyond for everyone else everyday of their lives, and don’t expect anything in return. Despite that, they deserve to be recognized and appreciated just as much as all other students. They have a voice, it just might not be as loud as others. 

My intention with this article is not to insult. It is meant to open eyes to other people and possibilities within the school. The Altoona school district is widely respected. Take a moment to imagine just how much more respect the district could gain when they realize just how important inclusiveness is to all students. 

If my short amount of time with these students has taught me anything, I have learned how important the power of love is. Love is the most powerful force in the world, and these caring individuals know just how important it is.

I didn’t realize until I got to know these kids just how important a kind smile is. I have never met more welcoming people in my life. Without fail, these students make my day. They are the first to offer a genuine smile or a gentle hug and are always cheering on whoever they can. With these students, kindness is so simple. If the world would take advice from these beautiful individuals, it would be a much better place. 

Until I started working with these students, I never thought about the immense impact they have on other students, teachers and other faculty members. They deserve to feel just as appreciated as everyone else. They may not be the star quarterback on the football team, but these individuals leave their mark on the people around them just as much as everyone else. Let their voices and their stories be heard.