Sunday, December 21, 2008

Florida school program tries to boost self-esteem of students with disabilities

From the intro to a longer feature in The Beacon in Deland, Fla. In the picture, teacher Lisa Rodler teaches Cody Flowers to add and subtract money.

How many times have you heard one child say to another, “You retard!” How about, “He’s a cripple. He can’t play!”

Do you avoid or feel sorry for people in wheelchairs? Each day on school campuses across the state and nation, thousands of children are put down, laughed at and criticized because they have some kind of physical, mental, or emotional disability.

The Florida Legislature is trying to change the negative image, perception and treatment of people with disabilities. Toward that goal, the Legislature established the first half of October as Disability History and Awareness Weeks.

At Deltona High School and other schools in the Volusia County system, however, teachers and administrators work throughout the year to improve the image of children with disabilities. One way is by providing instruction for students with moderate and severe disabilities through the Multi-VE program.

VE stands for varying exceptionalities. Multi-VE students' disabilities and challenges include hearing or language impairments, mental handicaps, emotional and behavioral disorders, multiple physical handicaps and disorders all across the autism spectrum.

Located in Building Z on the 92-acre campus, Deltona High School’s Multi-VE program serves more than 50 students, ages 14 through 21. They attend classes to learn to function independently and to acquire skills to help them gain employment after graduation.