We were lucky enough to have a visit from a friend last night who now lives in America, but was over in the school holidays doing a grnad tour of the UK to visit friends and family. We had a good catch up for a couple of hours and exchanged news. Unfortunately Joshua was already sound asleep in his armchair when se arrived, so she did not see him awake, but was able to observe his long legs peeking out from under the blanket.
She has worked hard for the last 5 years, studying for a degree, and is now a special needs teacher of teenagers in USA funnily enough. One thing struck me clearly as she told us how she worked with ‘EC’. Being nosey, of course I asked what that stands for : Exceptional Children! Doesn’t that tell you all that you need to know about the cultural difference between UK and USA? Our special schools are for children with Special Needs, which sums up the input that they will require as they are more demanding than ‘normal’ children and so they are needy.
Yet the same child across the Pond is described as being ‘exceptional’ , which has a much more positive spin on it. It does not explain in what way they are exceptional so it could be that they are super-gifted and talented. This description seems to be more about what the child has to offer than what they need. Of course it is only a label and is only language, but it does set a tone and an expectation. Now having witnessed what I saw in Texas, about how parents, and schools, build up their children so much more than we do by talking loudly about their talents, skills and successes, this label makes sense. But I also wonder if they are under more pressure to conform and perform in USA an if there is sucha culture of achievement and boasting about success, I wonder how these Exceptional Children are really regarded in society.
I have always known that Joshua is exceptional; not in terms of his intelligence or self help skills sadly, but in terms of his ability to tolerate severe health restrictions, in his finely tuned social skills and his ability to make people smile and love him. Those are all exceptional skills in my eyes and they are talents that would make most parents of teenagers green with envy, I am sure