We shouldn’t shout down debate over special needs children | #specialneeds | #kids

Much of the invective against Ben Lowry came from Twitter
Much of the invective against Ben Lowry came from Twitter
The heavy criticism Ben Lowry experienced for his comment on an audit office report into special needs (The hysterical response to my tweet shows how Northern Ireland could become ungovernable, October 3) suggests that this is a topic that is not allowed to be discussed.

As a teacher in Canada (I am from Belfast originally) and a parent of a child with autism, I know it’s a tricky subject. If you’re a parent with a special needs kid (how do we define it?) and you’re waiting for additional assistance for your child, there’s never enough money being spent.

I wanted to get one of my younger children assessed so I asked for tests to be done by the district psychologist but the waiting list is so long. I just paid a lot of money for private testing. If the result comes back with a diagnosis we’ll get special intervention services at school. So I could be in the “we must spend more” camp. But I also wonder how much of the explosion in special needs diagnoses is due to incredible changes in society:

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Letter to the editor

• An education system geared towards sensibilities of girls (sit still, be obedient etc) and boys are not adapting;

• The teaching of dull subjects from dated 1990s text books competing for attention with ipads and apps;

• Low discipline due to ‘best-friend’ parenting and parents siding with their kids not teachers;

• Low discipline because kids know teachers cannot impose a detention or other old-school discipline.

• Parents who routinely give their kids sweets, cokes etc. No longer a treat. Addled brains;

• Kids on the internet until all hours and not getting enough sleep;

The answer is a change to all of the above, plus add in the cultural change within education of over diagnosis and labelling. I do not know if £1.3bn spent on special needs in Northern Ireland over five years is too much or too little. But measuring outcomes and accountability can never be a bad thing.

Screaming at the messenger doesn’t help a healthy debate but it is par for the course in our polarised society.

Keith Montgomery, Burnaby, Canada

Read more from the News Letter:

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Source link