Dear The Camp Director Who Insulted My Disabled Brother

Dear The Camp Director Who Insulted My Disabled Brother

We will in fact be "making other arrangements" because the disrespect, carelessness, and impolite words will not be tolerated. We will not subject ourselves to a community camp that engages in that language and behavior.

Tiffany Cariker

Dear the old gentleman who thought of my disabled brother as less than a human,

I understand you are now the director of the summer camp my disabled brother used to attend, before you talked about him in a disrespectful manner. You called for someone to pick him up after he had put his hands on another child at camp, a reasonable request. It was not until I got there where you would use harsh and derogatory terms when speaking about my brother and his paraprofessional. You had tried to belittle me by using your frank, crossing of the arms and raise of the voice (jokes on you though, big sisters don't back down.)

You referred to his paraprofessional as a "handler", according to the Merriam-Webster full definition, a "handler" is "a person in immediate physical charge of an animal." My brother is a child with Down Syndrome, not a zoo animal. His paraprofessional is "a trained aide who assists a professional person", according to the Merriam-Webster full definition, she is not a "handler". I am disappointed in the words you chose to use, especially as the new camp director. Your words are insulting not just as a sister of someone with a disability but to a professional doing her job, and to a community of people who work with children with disabilities and to the families of those with disabled children. Another offensive word choice you chose to use was when you said that the camp "isn't equipped for kids like that." Kids like what? Kids that have Down Syndrome? As I recall, the previous director was more than accepting and willing to work with "kids like that". The school district pays for "kids like that" to attend the community camp so "kids like that" can remain with their peers and aren't excluded. This camp focused on inclusion not just integration.

How can we expect children to include special education students when adults as old as yourself aren't doing it? Children learn from those around them, they pick up on our language and our actions toward one another. How can we expect children to accept and treat special education students correctly if you show no resect for them? You are now the camp director, that is a heavy title and with such a name you should be careful with what you say and your actions should reflect that of inclusion and respect.

I am appalled with the way you went about this situation and hope that no one is ever subjected to the words you used to talk about a special education student and his paraprofessional.

Maybe you should be the one to "think about making other arrangements" because clearly, a community camp director is not a well suited job for you.


Ryan's Sister

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