Special Education Kids Whom I see Everyday

Alhamdulillah, praise be to Allah for I am now a teacher pledging my service in special education- as some of you might have known. As many other young teachers have it, I too, am one of the "unlucky" ones to be sent to Sabah to work. Unfortunately, I never find Sabah as an unlucky place to be in...but that's another story to tell for another day. Today I will be writing about special education

Having worked in Sabah since mid-Jan, I can't say that I have taught the least-functioning kids ever. I mean, Pusat Pemulihan Dalam Komuniti (PDK) has way more challenging clients to deal with like the one you saw on Majalah 3 these past 2 years. However, I do find that dealing with special education kids are rather...thrilling, for most of the times. In this blog post, I will tell you about students I find most interesting during my tenure as a teacher for special education. I'm not in any way saying that these are the types that you'll see in other places; I'm just simply telling stories about these 5 special children

Let us start with..

#1. THE BOY WHO SEES INVISIBLE 4-STOREYED  HOTEL BEHIND TANDAS 
We have just received this kid for enrollment less than a month but he is the one who drains both teachers' and other students energy everyday. WHY? Every single time he goes out the door, he will storm off and run to the end of school and hide there. To have him back in the classroom for safety reason, teachers, teachers' aides, as well as students, have to participate in the mini marathon event to have him subdued.

I myself has caught him playing alone next to a banana tree in a very conspicuous way -he was slapping the banana leaves as if tengah main sep sep sep tom tom tom with somebody. I later had a sit-down session with him to investigate and it seemed that the boy was said to have some kind of ability that enables him to see 'things'. He said that those things (some are evil ones) come to him and that was the reason why he always run away. He also said that he sees a 4-storeyed hotel behind our Pendidikan Khas punya jamban, as if our recent mak cik guard's story about an apparition back there was not spooky enough.

We talked about this to the student's father and he said that he has qarin or saka, I don't know. I never take this ghaib things seriously. The full story is too long for me to tell in this post and I don't think it's relevant to our objective pun.

Anyway, the last straw that made us call his father to pick him up at school 2 days ago was when he keeps on running away and hiding in dangerous areas. When subdued, he threw tantrum and it got kind of spooky...

He hasn't been to school since.

#2. THE GIRL WHO HAS LONG HANDS
No, this one is not physical. I would never make fun of someone's physics when they can't help it. This girl, N, was caught so so so many times stealing stuff especially the ones that the teacher use to make craft stuff. Here in special education classes, we do not emphasize on academia but we focuses on skills instead. There are classes for car-washing, gardening, and making crafts. Amazing stuff, they make there

In order to produce stuff like aforementioned, we need to have raw materials and when the stock seemed scarce, the teachers responsible poke around many materials stuffed in this N student's bagpack.

Not only that, she also has a certain time in which she could be in her 'okay' mood. Otherwise, you would be scolded for no apparent reason, complete with Sinetron-style bulging eye style. She would stare you to death whilst saying things like "Cikgu ni makan gaji buta!" while the gaji was used to buy the materials that she took away nonchalantly.

But on the bright side, this student is very meticulous in her work and writing. Her handwriting, especially is like, super neat and pleasant to my eyes. She always gets stars for that, though.

#3. THE GIRL WHO RUNS AWAY FROM HOME
This is a tragic one. This particular girl, S, is 14 or 15 I couldn't remember well since she studies in the mainstream class - the one that pursues academia. The problem is that she runs away from home. if you notice the simple present tense there, you would realize that it is something that she does from time to time. Last week, the mother brought her into our office for intervention because days before that she was missing for the god-knows-how-many-time.

Apparently, she follows her friends around and was even caught intoxicated with substance. None of the heavy stuff, though, but drugs are drugs. There are components in our system that react differently towards such substance in both short and long term. No mother should every worry about her children like hers did. S's mother scared that she would be treated like sampah because you can imagine what could become of a teenage girl when she follows guys around without protection.

It was a sad thing to see that S did not show remorse at all. The conclusion made to solve that question was to have her enrolled to a nearby correctional institute.

We pray that she would soon learn the wrongs in her ways and realize that we, especially her mother love her.

#4. THE BOY WHO IS PSYCHOTIC
I am responsible for the gardening class and there is a student named "S" (lagi?). This boy has mild psychosis

  • impaired thinking and emotion
  • sometimes detached from reality
  • having delusions
but still in controllable condition lah. Otherwise we won't allow him to come to school. Speaking of which, he would often argue with teachers and fellow students on irrelevant things. He would threaten the girls and always feel as if everyone was out to get him. He will not listen to reason unless force (nobody touched him, btw. We implied force) were used against his psychosis episodes. 

There was this one time where he didn't want to do the work given during my English class. Trying to persuade, I tried to make small talk and somehow he accused me of saying bad stuff about him. There was also time when I asked the reason for him being absent the other day and he glared at me while accusing me of menghina his religion.

I was not even sure of his religious affiliation at that time.

Last 2 weeks, we held some sort of small feast and everyone was busy with their own tasks. We however, kept the students within our vicinity for safety reasons but macam biasalah there are always those who defy the authority. lol. S and another student strayed away and they played, and they fought.

Unfortunately, in that fight episode, he struck the other student's eyes with a stick. Judging that he is a danger to everyone on school compound, he was then barred from school for a set period of days.

Sometimes when you are in this kind of situation, you would question yourself whether it is alright to isolate him from other students because that might just exacerbate the situation even worse. I think he suffers from neglect issues because his father works 80km away and he stays with her brother in the house. The mother? She is in her village, being taken care by her family because it turns out that she has mental illness.

Is it genetics? I'm not sure. I always hold to the biopsychosocial factor as the root of mental illnesses. Your genetics is what your brain structure and hormone have. The psychology part depends on the way you are raised and lastly the social factor assess whether the environment has some sort of stressor to make you behave the way you do.

...and lastly

#5. THE BOY WHO IS FASCINATED BY ISLAM
Few days back, somebody sent me a friend request on Facebook and I consequently received a message in my inbox from someone named Muhammad Firman (not the real name).

This student was the one from Johor. He was 16 when I taught there as a practical teacher. This particular Chinese student won't ever stop talking about Islam and how he aim to be one Muslim one fine day. Unfortunately, he was under 18 at that time and according to law and of course, familial restriction, he was not allowed to do that.

We at special education considered that maybe the fascination was one of the things teenage do when they want to impress someone. He was actually infatuated by one of the female Muslim students there and so we did not hinder his effort to learn about Islam, nor did we zealously encourage him to do just that.

Alhamdulillah, he is now a Muslim and I pray for you to have all the happiness in the world.

Now, do you understand how being a special education teacher gives you thrill, excitation, and happiness? These are not the students you can have in your normal classroom. They need special and attentive individual care. While in my writing I may have indicated that I have made mistakes, but I do hope that I can be a better special education teacher, and a better person .

Thank you for reading. 

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