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The Positive Side of SED Classes

Michael, age 13

During a discussion on GT-Special, a teenager expressed concerns about possibly getting an ED (Emotional Disorder) placement. In response, another listmember posted the following note from her son, who attends an SED school (shared with permission):

Hi. I'm in 8th grade and I have been in SED (severe emotional disorder) classes for a couple of years.  Right now I am going to a private school for SED kids.  In the classes I have been in I don't think you, or anyone, would be bullied or picked on.  In SED classes I have been in, we all understand that we all have our own unique problems (and who doesn't!), but we also understand each other like no one else can. There are sometimes situations when someone gets a little tweeky (but this is also true of regular classes, right?), but overall, and especially when one of us is having a hard time, we really are supportive of each other.  We may even be a bit more accepting of each other, as who we are.

Don't base your opinion or your fear of SED kids on the 'stigma' or reputation.  Being in an SED class doe not automatically make you a 'freak' and it is not 'social suicide.'  If it looks like they are going to change your placement to ED, for real, open your mind and visit the class for a couple of hours.  Leave your fears and preconceived ideas at home, take your time and just talk to us.  I think you might find that most of us are pretty cool– we sk8, I ride a unicycle, play guitar, we are into all kinds of things.  We are, after all, just people who live with our own challenges, differences and strengths (again, who doesn't?).

Most of the kids in my classes have been like really exceptional in some subjects, and need help in others. For most of us, if you met one of us outside of class, you probably would not even guess that we were any different from any other kid out there.  The important thing is that you look at the new school situation and see if it realistically may be of any help to you, like small class size, more individualized help, more tolerance for 'individuality,' etc.

"SED" SHOULD NOT be interpreted as "freak" or "monster" and I think everyone should STOP encouraging that association.  Besides, who else gets 2 students to a teacher, like in my school now?  I am finally learning stuff, and it's cool!  My teachers adjust the curriculum level for each student, even when we work as a group, so I am not bored as much in class anymore. In my experience in SED, learning differences and disabilities are addressed, as well as social and behavioral issues.  I am learning to learn differently, and learning to deal with social situations differently.  I am proud of myself now, for a change.  Instead of constantly being suspended and punished for my problems, since I started my new school, in the past year I have had perfect attendance, zero disciplinary actions, and my last report card was A's and B's.

What is bad about SED classes?  I can't think of anything bad, at least for me.  I have even made some friends at school.  Of course, I wish I did not have bipolar and the other problems (for that matter, I wish I didn't have freckles, too!), but now I know I'm gonna be ok.  I didn't think so a couple of years ago...

Just be straight-up with yourself, and with the people around you, and you'll be ok.  Accept help when it's offered.  Also, even if you did start in an ED class, and it sucked, your placement can always be changed – classroom placement is not a life sentence.  Most of all, hang in there, it all works our eventually... Michael

August 22, 2002

"Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction."
       ~ Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller's Teacher)

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