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The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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An Insider’s Look Into The Life Of Special Education Students

Viviana Casanova

As a special education student here at Venice, I would like to talk about my struggles growing up and how it’s like for me to be a special education student now.

To start with when I was born I was diagnosed with arthrogryposis. Arthrogryposis is a rare condition where hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, feet and knees are affected, which means these parts of my body are stiff and not movable at all. 

But luckily for me my mom worked really hard in order for me to be able to move these parts of my body to this day I still have trouble bending my knees and stretching my arms back due to my condition. 

Doctors had told my parents I was only going to live for six months but look how far I’ve come and have many years ahead of me. I didn’t start talking until I was five years old. Talking to me has always been a tongue twister. 

I have always had a hard time talking. I always had stuttered but it has gotten better growing up. I still stutter but it’s very minimal now. In elementary I remember a few people asking me questions about my disability. They would ask me questions like this:

Why do I use a walker? Was I born like this or did something happen to me? What had happened to me? I always took it as if they were trying to judge me, and it really bothered me in some ways. 

I always felt like I wasn’t good enough for others, but as I got older I realized that you honestly don’t have to be good enough for others. Just be yourself. 

Now that I’m in high school, if someone were to come to me and ask me questions about my disability, I would just answer the stupid question and not care what other people think of me. Being a special education student in high school is easier, but it can honestly be a little difficult at times because I can do things, but it can be a struggle. For example, I use a walker, crutches and a wheelchair or scooter to get around sometimes. I would like to be independent and throw my own trash away or turning in my homework, but I sometimes need assistance for these things. 

Something you can do to better understand me is be patient when I’m talking because I can sometimes stutter and it’s hard to understand me as a special education student. I hardly ever get upset, but when I do l like to take deep breaths and listen to music. I enjoy walks and I enjoy writing. 

Other Venice students relate with being in a different program than others. 

23’ senior Sergio Flores

Flores liked growing up in a different program. He likes to play with his cars and draw Muppets to make him happy when he’s upset. He likes being a special education student now because his teachers are helpful.

Rising senior Antwon Morris

Morris liked growing up in a different program than others because he can talk to everyone, but he needs help understanding sometimes. In the past he’s been judged by others; he didn’t like it because it hurt his feelings. 

Morris uses sign language. You can try to understand what he says through sign language; that’s the best way to understand him. 

He likes having his friends around him. Power Rangers and listening to John Legend makes him happy when he’s upset.

“I like being a special education student now,” he said. “I find it easier talking to others now.”

Rising junior Theodora Erikson

Erikson said that growing up in a different program than others was frustrating. Playing with her dog, hanging out with some of her friends, watching Beauty and the Beast, listening to music from Mamma Mia, and going on walks make her happy. 

She likes it when people explain things to her and people don’t rush her because she can understand better.

Erikson always feels like she isn’t liked and judged by others. She likes being a student here at Venice, and she likes her classmates because they help her out when it’s needed. Her friends in her class understand her. 

I also asked educators who work with these students to see how it’s like for them working with special education students. 

Clyde Allen

Allen says he knew that he wanted to be a special education teacher when he use to go work with his mom at Salvin Special Educational Center. He would work with students with special needs, and he knew that it was what he wanted to spend his life doing.

He wanted to help students who really needed his help. He  wanted to make the biggest difference in education that he could. He also wanted to help parents with their children as well.

He loves being a special education teacher, because he enjoys teaching students who really want to learn. Special education students are really hard workers and he loves helping them do the best that they can.

Since he became a special education teacher, he learned more patience and understanding which made him a better parent. It also has helped him view things from a young person’s perspective and he can understand different point of views.

He would only change his special education teacher position for a new position as a Mega Million Lotto winner. He would only change his job so he can travel and help students with special needs across the world.

Yvonne Galeas 

Galeas says she knew she wanted to be a special education assistant when she was looking for career paths with LAUSD over 20 years ago. 

She likes working with children and seeing their growth. She likes seeing how kids grow in development.

She enjoys working with the special education community because each student has their own academic goal that has to be met.

Working with special education students has taught her to be aware of people’s uniqueness. Everyone isn’t at the same level. and that’s okay because everyone learns at their own pace.

Joy Kenneth 

Kenneth says he was working at a after school youth services program at 19 and someone asked if he wanted to be a special education assistant

He saw that kids needed extra help and he started working with special needs kids and started to like it.

He loves being a special education assistant—it’s so rewarding. It made him realize what parents have to deal with a special education kid

Ryan Lewis

Lewis says he knew he wanted to be a special education physical education teacher since he was in middle school

His dad taught special education physical education for many years, and he always loved playing sports 

He loves his job. Hiis students are great and he gets to teach them how to play sports.

“Teaching special education P.E. has helped me enjoy life,” he says. 

Pulani Ronald 

Ronald says he has fun working with such beautiful kids.

Being a special education assistant was basically an accident, he says. He was working for UPS then they mentioned to him working for LAUSD as a special education assistant for more money. 

So he said, “Don’t mind if I do.” 

He loves his job and thinks it’s fun. He gets to act silly and makes people laugh.

My family

My family said when I was born they didn’t really think things would change. I would just be a new addition to the family. They knew I was going to blossom into this beautiful young woman I am now. 

They knew I was going to be able to walk, talk and do things doctors said I couldn’t. Although my mom believed what doctors said, she eventually realized that the doctors were just lying. They like having a special education member in the family. When I was little my older sister said that people would look at me and get mad then be like “What are you looking at?” But the rest of my family said nothing really has bothered that people said or did to me 

 I think being in a special education program doesn’t make you any different from other regular ed students.

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  • J

    JahmarJul 28, 2023 at 3:40 PM

    Don’t listen to what people have to say about you stay strong you will achieve things in life you never knew was possible 😭❤️

    • V

      VivianaFeb 20, 2024 at 10:15 AM

      Thank you