THE EDITOR, Sir:
Successive governments would want everyone to believe that they have been doing all they could for special-needs children, but they are a great distance off the mark.
As a parent of a special-needs child, I believe I am being punished with expensive diagnosticians and therapists because these are not readily available in the public sector. And if available, the frustrating waiting list just shoves me out the door towards the private practitioner.
What do the parents who know their child has special needs do, when the funds are not available? Wish the problems away? I haven't seen any beggars riding horses lately, have you?
Having received that awesome diagnosis, where do you place your child for his/her education? The Ministry of Education says, "Every child can learn, every child must learn," and I agree.
But where are the school placements for our children? There are a few government schools (mostly in the Corporate Area) and some preparatory schools with special-education departments (SED), but I dare say every government primary (and secondary) school should have a fully staffed and functional SED, as most learning (and behavioural) disorders are recognised and diagnosed in the earliest years of learning.
As many will agree, learning disabilities impair learning but can be corrected with early, intensive and intentional intervention.
I hope this letter will intensify the interest of the powers that be who can invest the resources needed to ensure the intellectual capacity of our children.
No child should be bullied, belittled, labelled or left behind because of an undiagnosed learning disorder, and this is what is happening to our children today.
The 'dunce' class is no substitute for a clean, comfortable, colourful SED, with that competent and caring special-education teacher at the helm. Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites, we the parents of all these special-needs children are watching to see what steps you and the ministry will take to make special education a priority in Jamaica.