Monday, 22 September 2014

Social Devaluation and a Universities Thoughts

My daughter just started her third year of university and had to take a mandatory course on "social devaluation".  Social devaluation can happen for a number of reasons including, but not limited to race, religion, appearance, income, but this course specifically focused on individuals with special needs.  On the surface this course sounded like a great idea, teaching the soon to be professionals how society devalues individuals with special needs.

Social Devaluation - when a person or group is considered to have less social value than others.

My hope as a parent and advocate for people with special needs was that this course was going to educate these students on "social devaluation" and ways that they, as the upcoming professionals, could advocate and best support these individuals.  This was not the case, during the course it was discussed how people with special needs set themselves up to be devalued and we as parents, advocates, and professionals must expect more from these individuals.

In this class it was discussed how individuals with special needs, need to do things that their "typical" peers would be doing.  As wonderful as this sounds it is just not practical, for example we have two 18 year old's, one is off at college and the other is still playing with Lego and Hot Wheel cars.  For the second child he would be lost at college as he wouldn't be able to keep up academically or socially.  If we were to take away the Lego and Hot Wheel cars he would also be lost and as this is where he is developmentally, so why shouldn't he be able to play with them.

It was also discussed how people with special needs wouldn't be devalued if they dressed like their peers.  I agree that dressing their age is important however there are other considerations to be made. Some of our children have coordination challenges that make dressing a challenge so finding clothing that they are able to manipulate is more important than keep up with fashions.  There could also be other considerations that are musts in clothing accommodations for example diapers, braces, feeding tubes, sensory issues to name a few.

Another thought in this course was that if people would "act" like others then they wouldn't be devalued.  I don't know about the people with special needs that are in your life but I know the ones in my life with special needs aren't "acting".  This thought really made me question the professors at this university, do they not realize that the diagnostic criteria for various special needs is based on behavior.  

We as parents and advocates for people with special needs, need to step up our advocating skills.  I encourage you to get out and advocate. Also if you have an opportunity to speak at your local university get in there and educate them because I am guessing the university my daughter is attending isn't the only one with these thoughts.


  1. Interesting post. Your dealing with the university side of it and I am dealing with the kindergarten side of it. I'm homeschooling because my daughter isn;t ready for numerous reasons but there is a bit of pressure to keep her with her peers. Your post gave me some thoughts to consider.

    1. Thanks for your comments - We are also homeschooling and it is amazing how many people have an opinion on what they feel is best for us. Good luck with your schooling adventure!