Weekly Reading List: Children & Youth Edition

Picture of two shelves of multicolored books

A lot of my disability reading this week had to do with kids ...

Beating of Disabled Teenager Highlights a Crime That Often Goes Unpunished
By Mitch Smith and Richard Pérez-Pena, New York Times - January 6, 2017

Whenever another case of horrific individual cruelty against a disabled person comes to light, my first instinct is to want to put it into context. And I don't mean mitigating context. In cases like this, I mean remembering that these situations and acts aren't super-rare, and the youths who did it aren't evil unicorns. They reflect fairly common ableism that's usually muffled by layers of social norms that these kids apparently lacked or rejected, on that day, for a hundred reasons we'll probably never really know. Like many other disabled people whose comments I've read, I am just as upset that this case got so much attention mainly because white supremacy apologists and racism deniers hyped it for their own purposes. It's all a fucking mess.

The Life of a Disabled Child, From Taunts to Hate Crimes
Margaret Carlson, New York Times - January 6, 2017

This is hard to read because there's a lot of disability thinking in it that is just past expiration date. Veteran NYT columnist Margaret Carlson is on the right side of things here, and she's sincere. But once again the actual disabled person, in this case her brother, appears as an abstraction, and her concept of systemic progress is a decade or two old. Still, I'm glad she chose to add her thoughts and experiences to the conversation.

What About Dignity and Respect? When Our Disability Attitudes Fail Us
Ellen Stumbo - January 6, 2017

I keep meaning to go back and try to say something useful about the conflict, (maybe disconnect is a better word for it), between "Special Needs Parents" and disabled adults. Ellen Stumbo makes an incredibly moving and helpful contribution here. Her courage to be self-critical suggests that maybe it's time for a disabled adult to write something that endorses what she says here, but also questions some of the stridency and self-righteousness we often convey when we write about the tone and practices of disabled kids' parents.

Schools Get Guidance On Restraint, Seclusion
Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop - January 6, 2017

I only hope that all this effort by the Education Department doesn't get flushed in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, during some kind of "clean sweep" of "regulations and mandates." On the bright side, you can reverse laws and eliminate regulations, but you can't as easily suppress good ideas. Once spoken and documented, continue to exist regardless.

Three Tips to Make Classrooms Mobility Device Friendly
Zachary Fenell, Think Inclusive - July 9, 2016

What I love about this article from last summer is that the advice in it comes from disabled adults who were asked to suggest ways to make school better for disabled kids. While we obviously don't have all the answers ... and our perspectives can become skewed by either nostalgia or trauma ... we have been there, and as adults we have the tools to interpret our experiences the way many kids can't yet for themselves. It is truly surprising how seldom disabled adults are asked to weigh in on how best to raise, nurture, and educate disabled kids.