Tim Teebow’s foundation is doing something many think is quite awesome. His foundation will be sponsoring a prom for children with special needs. The event is being held in 50 different sites throughout the country. I know I should be giving this huge thanks and appreciation but I don’t get it.
Why do children like Bridget need their own prom?
I get Special Olympics. Athletically children like mine cannot compete. Bridget will probably need adaptive sports. And that’s okay. It is awesome that the Special Olympics were created so that our children can compete with their peers.
I applaud movie theaters and other venues who have events where children with autism (and other needs) can view the show with the lights on, or with other accommodations. I think it is wonderful when malls host a special Santa sitting so those who need that accommodation are able have that annual picture. That Disney makes allowances so that our families can enjoy their park.
I understand that there are a thousand organizations out there that do what they can to make sure our children are included, give what others perceive as “perks” and I contend that my having a problem with a special prom seems hypocritical.
Yet prom shouldn’t have to be adaptive. According to the Greenville Online, the director of the Teebow foundation believes “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience a prom where they feel loved and welcomed and we pray this event will positively impact the lives of thousands of people across the country”
I agree with that. Everyone should have the opportunity to attend the prom. If they desire. They should feel welcome and loved.
The purpose of inclusion, of having children “main streamed” was supposed to make all children feel welcome, loved and a part of both the academic and social aspects of school. I know it doesn’t always happen. There is bullying. There are educators that do not understand. There are persons in this world that look at a person with special needs with pity rather than encouragement. That is what this well-meaning event means to me. That my daughter has to have a special prom because she will feel unwelcome at what should be her own prom. At her school with her classmates.
Having a special prom is in direct opposition of inclusion. If Bridget continues to receive her education in an integrated school, I want her to be able to attend that prom. I would not want her to feel unwelcome because she isn’t like everyone else.
Having a special prom means her academic experience didn’t work. For her or her classmates.