Fri | Apr 28, 2017

'Stop calling children dunce!'

Published:Thursday | July 2, 2015 | 7:00 AM

Principal of the Randolph Lopez School of Hope, Sylvestina Reid, has noted that she has had to be turning back students referred to the school because they do not meet the standard of intellectual disability.

"We get referrals from mainly primary schools, and at this time of year you see the numbers increase, when the students come to us with their letters the assessment is done. We screen, then we assess and the results are showing that these children are not candidates for this school, and we give them a letter and send them back with some sort of recommendation for the teachers," she said.

Behavioural problems

Reid disclosed that the number of students seeking a space at Randolph Lopez generally increases at the beginning and end of the school year. This increase, she said, stems from the fact that teachers often think that children have a learning disability when in fact they may have behavioural problems.

"Teachers are teachers and they can't come up with a diagnosis. We are not supposed to do it, even us here as special-education teachers, we can't just look at a child and say that child has intellectual disability. You have to test and do standardised assessment that we use to come up with a label for a child. We cannot just get up and label people's

children like that," she said.

The special-education veteran, who has put in more than 30 years of service, has made a strong call for teachers to stop labelling children without the proper assessment.

"Some of my colleagues in other places love to look at people's children and label them as being intellectually disabled, dunce or retarded or fool-fool, or whatever the case may be. We need to stop labelling the children because you don't know until an assessment is done," Reid said.

Randolph Lopez is one of the largest schools catering to students with intellectual disabilities and engages a number of strategies to meet their needs.

"No two students are the same, so we have to develop individual education plans for each of our students who are lagging behind. We have to also develop behaviour modification programmes which help with some of the behavioural problems that the students may come with," Reid said.