Monday, June 7, 2010

A Very Peculiar Field Trip

Today Ryan's class went on a field trip to Playland.

That sounded so normal.  Let's try that again.

Today Ryan's class went on a field trip to Playland's free day exclusively for individuals with disabilities.

The event was just as crowded as any other day at Playland (I heard an estimate of 10,000), but half the people were in wheelchairs, or in helmets, or were blind, or had almond-shaped eyes, or were behaving peculiarly.

Ryan and most of his classmates had a terrific time.  One poor kid was completely overwhelmed by the crowds and the noise, and when the teachers brought him on a ride, he went over the edge and fell into full-blown meltdown mode for the rest of the morning.  But otherwise, the kids liked the rides and handled themselves quite well.

One advantage of Individuals with Disabilities Day is that the boy could have his meltdown without drawing much attention to himself.  For perhaps the first time, he blended right in with all the other kids.

While I appreciate the existence of Individuals with Disabilities Day for just that reason, I still feel a little awkward that my child qualifies to attend.  I know he's in special ed, but I don't generally think of him as "disabled."  I could drift into PC and say that he's "challenged" or "special" or some other euphemism, but I know that by most definitions, my son has a developmental disability, and therefore he is disabled.

But knowing it and saying it are very different experiences.  Even if saying it gets you free tickets to Playland.

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