Disabled students are not able to continue their public education past the age of twenty-one. They are deprived from interaction necessary to improve their quality of life. The Individuals with Disabilities Act assures a “free and appropriate public education” for all children with disabilities ages two through twenty-one. It is unjust that wheelchair bound students do not have access to the same facilities and care once they reach the age limit. Their families worry about how their lives will change once they reach this stage in their lives and what will happen next. In the video “21 With Autism: A New Set of Challenges” many families express their concerns for their loved once and what their fears are for the future.
As you can see these families have serious concerns about their loved ones lives once they turn twenty-one. They are constantly worried about things that their children or siblings will have to deal with and it is a heavy weight on their shoulders. Will they have someone to care for them if their parents pass away? Will they be able to get the treatment or care they need? And will they be treated equally by society and the community? No family should have to go through this just because their child can no longer attend school. Having a disabled child is already a lot of pressure on a family and to have to prepare for what will happen when they turn twenty-one is even more challenging.
According the article “Parenting a Child with Special Needs“, in public schools each disabled child that is eligible has their own personal “education planned by a team, including the parents of the child”. These student are receiving the care and education that they deserve in public schools and their parents are part of the process so that it is comforting to them to know that their child is in good hands. Many specialized and public schools will offer daily physical, occupational, and speech therapy for students to help improve their conditions and quality of life. Having all of these benefits suddenly stop after about eighteen years is not only unjust to the student but also to the family. Having to watch your child suffer everyday without any other interaction really takes a toll on parents and family members.
I know this is true because I have been through this with my cousin Jessica. She was wheelchair bound since the age of six and was not able to communicate with others very well. She attended a specialized school for disabled individuals called Lakeview school until she was twenty-one years old. She was provided with therapy, medical overview, social activities, and enabling technology daily for eighteen years. Once she reached the age limit she spent the last two years of her life only moving from a bed to a wheelchair and the only interaction she had was from family members who would feed, change and clean her. It was difficult for my family, especially my aunt to watch Jessica’s condition get increasingly worse in their home. I believe that if Jessica was able to attend school longer, the last few years of her life would have been healthier and not as shattering for our family.
To help and support disabled students we need to extend this type of education for them.They are students just like everyone else and citizens just like everyone else who deserve care and education. We need to help families who are worried about their children’s future and and keep educating disabled individuals.