I suppose that I should say a few words about special educational needs. The reason for this is that some idiots have seized upon a post I put up here on the subject and are now using it to try and prove that I have an unacceptable attitude to disability. Firstly, let us look at the relevant section upon which these complaints are founded. The context is that I was questioning the often made claim that a disproportionate number of home educated children have special educational needs;
"Almost none of these children have what most people would describe as a special need or disability. There do not appear to be quadraplegics, children with spina bifida or Down's Syndrome, the deaf or the blind, those with moderate to severe learning difficulties. Instead, they apparently suffer from a variety of problems which are usually alluded to by a few cryptic letters; AS, ADHD,ME,ODD,OCD and so on. Since many of these mothers, for those on these message boards are almost invariably female, present as articulate, anxious and middle class, it is interesting to speculate about the reason for the sorts of problem which they claim their children are afflicted with.It is a long standing joke among those with whom I work that middle class children are never illiterate. They "suffer" instead from dyslexia. Nor are they naughty and badly behaved; it is that they are displaying the symptoms of ADHD. Clumsy and ill co-ordinated middle class kid? Must be dyspraxia. And so on and so forth. In other words, there is a good chance that there is actually nothing much wrong with many of these children other than the usual childhood problems; namely that they are reluctant to learn, they drop and break things and don't do as they are told."
Observe that I am talking here about problems which some mothers "claim their children are afflicted". I am referring to some of the people one reads on the lists who say that they think that their child must have Aspergers because he is so shy and socially inept. Others have claimed that they suspect that their husband also suffers from Aspergers or AS for short. From this, one recent poster on the HE-UK list has concluded that I am denying the very existence of Asperger's Syndrome. I am actually talking about parents who have been specifically told that their child does not have this syndrome, or whose children have not even been seen by a doctor or psychologist and then use this relatively rare disorder to explain their child's behaviour. I might mention that in the eighties I not only worked for the Alice Hoffmann Homes in this area, but I also fostered a child with autism for a project run by Barnados and LB Tower Hamlets. To suggest that I do not accept the existence of Asperger's Syndrome is utterly mad. I do find it offensive though to see genuine medical conditions used glibly to explain or excuse some child's behaviour.
As for some of the other Alphabet Soup syndromes I mentioned, well, don't even get me started on ODD or oppositional Defiance Disorder. This means that your kid does not do as he is told when you want him to do something. My own children suffered from a particularly intractable form of this syndrome, although I never sought medical help! Just to recap, I was talking about the parents one hears who claim that their child must have ADHD because he is so inattentive. Or those who believe their child to be dyspraxic because he has trouble doing up his shoe laces. I am very happy to discuss disability and special needs at length with anybody, but to try and make out on the strength of the above paragraphs that I am have a poor attitude to disability is ridiculous. A poor attitude to neurotic parents who seize on fashionable syndromes to excuse ordinary childhood behaviour, certainly, I will plead guilty to that!