The word “limitations” is used almost weekly in my teaching profession.  It has more than one meaning, and usually is attached to a lot of paperwork.  I especially associate it with the massive amount of government-required special education paperwork that has to be done for schools to receive special education funding.

    My former school district was one of the first school districts to accept the generous offering of funds for the purpose of giving special attention, staffing, and programming to and for students with special needs.  It didn’t take but a year or two before the programming was required, and the funding was taken away a little at a time.  The end result was that school districts were left holding a very heavy and expensive program.

    I was horrified to see a trained teacher leave her lesson to insert a catheter into a special-needs child as part of her classroom responsibilities.  She didn’t train to be a nurse, but the “least restrictive environment” ruling of the courts forced this task upon her.  That was years ago, and I no longer am a part of the public-school system.  However, I see the connection between this incident and the problem we are having today with people in our schools and in our cities allowed to be in their “least restrictive environment” when they clearly are in need of mental health restrictions and limitations.  The courts have ruled that even the mentally ill have the right to be where they are happy.  So, we have homeless people on our streets who are clearly off their medication…suffering through episodes that can put others at risk.

    Can I fix the problem?  No.  You see, I, too, have limitations!  What I try to do is help my students overcome limitations to their learning in my classes.  I take advantage of every method I know or can discover that will help the child find success.  This is often a very difficult task.  Even after all these years of special education programming, there still isn’t a definite and concrete fix for learning disabled children.  It’s a lot like medicine…it’s called a practice.  

    Yes, our gifted children can also have learning limitations which have a negative effect upon them.  I spend time helping people understand that such limitations can coexist in a brilliant mind.  My staff is taught methods and concepts to help gifted students work through such problems.  Are we always feeling successful?  No…sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be an answer.  At that point, we show our love and concern, and try to be supportive where we can.  

-       Kay