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Neurodivergent Man Says Special Ed Kids Need Consequences Or They Will End Up In Trouble – 'Law Enforcement Doesn't Care If Your Kid Had An IEP'

Photo: Drazen Zigic / CanvaPro
Special education teacher sitting with a student at a desk.

While many special education classrooms and programs are created to provide safe spaces for children with — often intellectual — disabilities to learn and grow, many are complicit in setting their students up for failure once they mature into adults and enter “the real world.” 

Many children with intellectual disabilities are not being effectively taught how to embrace their own identity whilst being aware of the dangers the world presents when social boundaries are broken, or intense public situations occur. 

It’s proven in statistics about police brutality alone — between 35% and 50% of fatal police encounters are victims with disabilities. One man on TikTok believes the only way to lower this tragic statistic is for schools to start implementing disciplinary measures for special ed kids.

This neurodivergent man suggests parents and schools are ‘failing’ their children with disabilities by refusing to enforce consequences on their behavior early in life. 

“Neurodivergent Nate” on TikTok uses his platform to discuss his own experience growing up disabled while also providing insightful perspectives on new-age parenting styles and educational discourse for people living with a disability. 

   

   

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Nate sparked an important discussion about special education and parenting styles. He argued that if “you don’t give your child with a disability consequences now, while they’re under the age of 18,” they’ll learn it in much more harmful ways from “the law,” society, or even strangers as adults. 

“You realize that law enforcement does not care if your kid had an IEP or had a 504,” he said. “Some of you don’t realize that these kids are 5’11 or 6’1… when they become dysregulated because they need to wait or because they’re told no… and they start acting the way they do in classes in society — the cops are going to be called.” 

His insights are absolutely not intended to blame kids living with disabilities or to spark any kind of fear, but rather to start a discussion about effective learning in homes and classrooms that can actually benefit these communities. It’s not easy to integrate into our society, with its complex norms and expectations, especially if you’re not prepared for it. 

Although ‘IEPs’ often excuse ‘poor behavior’ in school settings, failing to enforce boundaries or reinforce ‘appropriate’ behavior can lead to more serious consequences later in life. 

“You cannot be yelling, screaming, throwing things in public, or throwing a human adult tantrum because it can be dangerous and scary to those around you,” Nate added. “If you’re doing this in a store, they’re going to call the cops.” 

While it’s important to provide space to deal with big feelings and navigate uncomfortable situations in the classroom — oftentimes with behavior similar to the above — it’s even more essential to reinforce more appropriate coping mechanisms. Whether that means redirection or real consequences, it’s the responsibility of parents and teachers to set these boundaries early in life. 

   

   

It’s the reason why many school districts have things like individual education programs ("IEPs") that help to spell out the needs and goals of students with disabilities in their learning process. However, these kinds of protections and acknowledgments don’t follow kids into the real world, and many have even failed to prepare them for it. 

Parents might be comfortable permitting screaming tantrums, or worse, at home, but if they constantly let this behavior go “unchecked,” they’re only setting their children up for failure when they run into similar triggers in the real world. It might seem like an obvious observation, but the more children grow, the more potential they have to incite real harm to themselves and others. 

Nate furthered, “They’ve been shown that they can continue this type of behavior, and then when they come into society and do it, they’re scared, perplexed, and confused as to why people are putting their hands on them.” 

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Nate argued that ‘neglectful parenting styles’ are to blame.‘They’ve been shown they can do X, Y, and Z and not receive any consequences.’ 

“Many of these kids can’t even read or identify shapes; you think your child with a disability is going to be able to remember your phone number and who to call when they get arrested for acting this way in public?” 

While every student’s educational threshold is different, school curricula and parents alike need to be teaching effective coping mechanisms and the importance of social boundaries to everyone

“We are failing kids on a different level,” he continued, “and I’m going to blame it on this gentle parenting trend that is truly permissive and neglectful at its finest.” 

   

   

Many special education teachers and experts, like Shannon Olsen on TikTok, suggest that teaching children about boundaries early in life is one of the most important ways to prepare them for the real world. Not only does it provide students with intellectual disabilities the tools to learn and maintain “appropriate” and respectful behavior outside of the classroom, but it also teaches them to protect themselves. 

Protecting adults with disabilities starts at school and with parents at home. Perpetuating harmful stereotypes & lazy boundaries isn’t doing anyone any favors. 

“Not all persons of authority are to be fully trusted,” Olsen explained. “It’s one of those topics that we forget to discuss in an open format… teaching the student that they always have autonomy over their body and their personal effects.” It’s essential, both in the classroom and at home, to teach this boundary, as it’s applicable to so many situations once these students move on from the classroom. 

While society tends to erase the disabled experience through stereotyping, social and legal regulations, and constant “othering” of people with identities outside the accepted normative lens, it’s important to bring these discussions to the forefront. If we don’t make space to have them, we only feed into a harmful and ignorant cycle. 

Stop assuming limitations, perpetuating harmful stereotypes, and underestimating the importance of effective learning styles and early education — it’s only putting people living with disabilities at a higher risk for harm. 

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.