People who scam parents of S/PMH kids

A few days ago I was at a school for S/PMH (severe/profound mentally handicapped) kids. I had the opportunity to sit in on a certain class. The kids in this class were basically vegetables. They did not respond in any way at all to any kind of stimulation. They just sat there staring into space. They had no reaction to being spoken to, touched, picked up and carried – just totally blank. And yet, the state has deemed that these kids should have an art class.

So what happens is, the teacher and the two aides put paintbrushes, crayons, or markers into a kid’s hand, close their hands around the kid’s hand, and guide the kid’s hand to do artwork, as well as wrinting the kid’s name on the paper. All this time the kid is not aware of anything. They cannot even see the paper they are working on because they are not looking at it. Even if they were looking at it they would not know what was going on.

The thing is, there are some parents who apparently believe that their kids have actually done the artwork themselves. This is evidenced by letters of appreciation that this teacher has hanging all over the wall. “You are the only one who has been able to get my son to unlock his creative potential – thank you so much!” “You don’t know how wonderful it was to receive a Mother’s Day card from my daughter – how do you do it?”

Are these parents really so naive, and does the teacher encourage this out of some desire to “give them hope”? That is so sad. This is nothing but a scam.

That’s really sad.

In what capacity were you there? You said you were sitting in, but are you in any position to speak to administration about this, or anything like that?

That is pretty lame.

If anything they should put the brush in the kids hand and place the brush on the paper and then walk away. That way if the kid moves at all there will at least be some mark on the paper. I’d be much more proud of my kid for that than having the teacher do all the work and claim my kid did it.

And I’m someone who is proud to have gotten birthday cards from my nephew when he was two that was basically a scribble with a green crayon and him claiming it was a dog.

Thinking more about it I am annoyed at the teacher. By the teacher doing all the work and making the parents thinking their kid did it makes the teacher out to be some kind of genius who can get the kid to draw while making the parents look like incompetent bafoons because they can not get their kid to draw.

The mother of Jessica Simpson claims the blonde famous for thinking a can of tuna was chicken has an IQ of 160 and is eligible for Mensa. I don’t think it’s naivete but rather the parents’ need to see their child as being better than what they really are.

If you want to see something that’ll really make you gag, check out some of the facilitated communication outfits. Basically they use the same kids as ouija boards to spell out messages on a keyboard.

God that’s sad. I’m so sad for those parents.
I did a project like that once. A few years ago I helped a group of mentally disabled adults do Christmas cards to send. Their functioning varied, a few of them were gorked out, but others got pretty engaged. The staff started out doing it hand-over-hand, but I kept giving supplies directly to people (I’d just brought holiday-theme sponges and tempera paint).

Some of the cards were kinda messy (actually most of them were), but I thought they were festive - red and green swirls and drips. Maybe a recognizable star here and there, a Christmas tree, a wreath. Some of them had a great time with the paint and made some interesting patterns.

When we took a break (to let them dry) I found the staff frantically stamping clean images on the cards. “We’re afraid people will laugh” “We’re afraid people will think we’re making a joke” “We’re afraid it will seem rude”.

My friend up the street has a severely handicapped child. Each school day the bus comes and picks her up in the wheelchair friendly van and takes her daughter to “school.” The school obviously doesn’t teach these children anything close to what a normal child will receive. However, they do get physical, and mental, stimulation. You don’t see it as being stimulating but for a person who spends 95% of their day in the same room in the same house, just a change in environment may stimulate a handicapped child enough that he/she sleeps through the night.

I don’t consider “art classes” for these kids a scam. Rather it’s an outlet for the kids to receive some sort of physical therapy and, perhaps more importantly, a chance for their exhausted parents to get a freaking break for a few hours a day. If offering “art classes” makes these parents feel better about the hell that they’ve been handed, then by God, let them have their art classes.

Of all the things I balk about in regards to wasteful government spending, art classes for S/PMH is not one of them. In fact, I support the idea of sending these kids to “school” year round because summer is horrible for these parents. Can you imagine trying to go to the grocery store when you have a S/PMH person living with you? I do imagine it because two dear friends of mine live it.

Many years ago, I spent a few hours each week for a couple of years trying to get a fellow to brush his teeth, among other tasks. Once he even put the brush in his mouth, but then that was not the point. (Interestingly enough, I can remember his name and his face quite easily, despite my not being able to remember many people from back then.)

People need stimulation. We need verbal and physical contact with others. We need to exercise both our bodies and our minds. Being mentally handicapped does not change that.

I think it’s important, too. Except that the staff needs to be up front about what they’re doing. Essentially they’re doing all this work for the kids and passing it off as work that the children have done of their own accord. They’re giving false hope to parents, which is cruel.

She has enough money to be eligible for Mensa. More money than you or I will ever have, so who gives a shit? Nothin wrong with her.

The SDMB just won another little victory in its fight against ignorance: I wikied Jessica Simpson only to learn that she was not a character from The Simpsons, as I had mistakenly assumed up until now.

I am assuming this is a public school. The parents probably have a pretty good idea of what their kid is capable of, and the ‘thank you’ letters may well really mean “you are one of the few than actually pays attention to my son”. If someone were trying to make money on this, I’d call it a scam. But there’s no indication that that is the case here.

That may be the case. The card that the OP mentioned, where the mother asks, “How do you do it?” or “You are the only one able to unlock my son’s creative potential” makes it seem like they genuinely are unaware…but I suppose they could be aware. I’m curious, at any rate.

Wow! I had absolutely no idea that money is the main measure of one’s intelligence! What a novel and sound concept!

Damn. I’m stupider than I thought. :frowning:

I agree with the pitting so far as letting parents believe things that just aren’t true. I don’t think scam is the right word; more like fraud, except that implies they have a financial objective, too, when it sounds like the teachers and aides are a just little mis-guided about the way their efforts are being interpreted rather than actively trying to bilk people out of money.

I guess the bottom line is, does it hurt the parents of these kids to have incorrect ideas about them? Does the false hope hurt anyone in the long run in this situation?

How do you know? I’m severely physically handicapped, and I go through every day life having people just assume I’m “totally blank.” You tried to interact with them, right? Or did you just observe?

If I were one of those kids I’d have emotionally checked out and left my body too. I was close to being one of those kids too, but fortunately I was born on the cusp of the all inclusive program.

What Can Handle the Truth has a problem with isn’t the “all inclusive” classes, or the stimulation these children get. He has a problem with the teachers creating their own work and then passing it off to the parents as the child’s.

One, the parents live with these kids. They are not going to be completely bamboozled. Furthermore, I would suspect that the teachers may well be as deluded as the parents–they may not really realize how much they are helping. So it’s a combination one 1) everyone pretending that the kids are more capable than they are, because it’s a polite fantasy that makes everyone feel better and 2) some exageration because no matter what, the best 25% of what you’ve got looks good–and so if there are small signs of enjoyment or preference in art class, well, you treasure that because it’s all you’ve got.

Furthermore, those letters may have come from kids who were more advanced than the kids you saw, unless the school only teaches kids exactly like that class.

Were these teachers affectionate? Happy? Attached? Concerned? If those things are true, they are freaking saints and don’t deserve this pitting. It’s so hard to find really good people to work with kids like that–we have a unit for severely autistic kids in my school, and we can’t keep good teachers–the very best ones get burned out because it’s really hard to work with the same 5-6 kids all day for a year or years and not fall in love with them, and it’s really hard to love someone who may only sorta know you exist. And there is the fact that we’ve had teachers hospitalized out of that unit. Plus, it’s a lonely, isolated job. No one else does what you do or understands it.

From my experience teaching art to children and adults of various ages and abilities, I think some of it has to do with self-consciousness concerning artmaking, period.

Lots of people don’t think art is any “good” unless it’s recognizable, and they don’t care how the reasonable facsimile was achieved. There are people making money selling art education to the masses in a Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 approach. Donna Dewberry, Bob Ross John Lovett, that kind of thing. I even had students at the Senior Center chide me for teaching them how to draw, vs. how to paint a lighthouse in 3 easy steps.

From that perspective, it’s not surprising to see teachers taking over their students’ work. It happens in “regular” art classes, too. Bugs the crap out of me.

Until you know what it is to be a parent of a handicapped child, shut your fucking mouth!

Yeah, those parents like to see that artwork, because unlike other people who have normal functioning children, their kid will never run up to them and say, “I love you mom! Happy Mother’s Day!” If they are deluding themselves a little bit to try to believe their kid made that card, then what is it to you? Chances are you (and society at large) have no idea what it is like for us.

Unfortunately we have to make do with the scraps we are given. We are supposed to be these brave, wonderful parents who never complain and take care of our kids with love and patience, when professionals can barely handle them. Do you have any idea how that feels as a parent? Probably not. School is the one time we can put our child into the hands of others and NOT feel guilty about it. Those people do more to help us than our own families.

A handicapped child is looked at as a problem, not a human being, by quite a lot of people. Imagine, as a parent, having it shoved in your face how fucking “normal” other people’s kids are, while they can barely conceal their annoyance at having to deal with yours. They look at you like it is your fault, like you must be able to handle the fit, the outburst, the whatever it is for that day. And we are just people who had a kid, we didn’t know we needed a degree in developmental fucking psychology to raise the child.

And we didn’t know that we’d be taking care of the child until we are 90-years-old instead of seeing her grow up and go to college and have her own life. Those dreams will never be realized for us. More people need to put themselves into the shoes of the brokenhearted parents whose lives have been permanently, and not necessarily positively, changed forever. We didn’t ask for this. My daughter is 11-years-old and I am no longer physically strong enough to stop her from hurting me and hurting herself. I’m 33, but I feel 80, what I wouldn’t give for that normal parenting experience just for a little bit of the time.

Any caregiver who takes the time to work with these kids is a fucking saint and should be treated with respect. They get paid nothing and do one of the hardest jobs on earth, jobs that no one BUT a saint would want. Until you’ve walked the proverbial mile in someone’s shoes, save your fucking judgment.

As for the “state,” ALL kids are entitled to the same public education, even the ones you think are vegetables. And that’s something that we as parents have to fight to maintain. They don’t put the services out on a table for you to choose from, it is all like a million piece puzzle that as soon as you get a corner put together someone comes along and smashes it and you have to start over, and over…looking for answers that aren’t there and looking for SOMEONE to help you and your child. But it’s a fucking needle in a haystack, you put your name in a hat and hope that one day someone will call you and tell you they have something for ya.

We’re on a 17 year waiting list for services in Indiana, my kid is 11. That’s what needs to be pitted, not the few generous people in this world who actually give a damn about our kids.