Monday, March 28, 2011

Cost of Disability Accommodations: It Isn't Peanuts

An elementary school in Edgewater, Florida has become ground zero for a controversy: Just how much should other kids be asked to change their routines when one child has a disability?

A 6-year-old girl there has a life-threatening peanut allergy, and school officials agree that it's a Federally protected disability. So, they've required all her classmates to wash their hands before entering the classroom both in the morning and after lunch, and also to rinse out their mouths.

Some people think that's a bit much to ask - in fact, local parents have asked that instead the girl be home-schooled...though the school district says "that's just not even an option".

Looking more broadly, a clear if narrow majority of the 86,250 people (as of now) who have voted on the issue on the above page agree that the girl should be removed from class because her allergy is too disruptive. Only just over a quarter of those voting feel it's a straightforward matter of her right to be in school. The rest - including Your Humble Servant - hope some kind of compromise can be worked out.

While we Aspies rarely ask others to wash their hands let alone rinse out their mouths more often, the fact is that we also often require sacrifices of others. People who, among other things, have to abandon their normal polite mode of speech, or wait until we've looked up from a task to suggest something, or hear complaints from people whom we've addressed bluntly (in their eyes, tactlessly) at least have a right to ask that we do anything we can to reduce their burden.

What do you think?

PS: You might have noticed - but probably didn't - that we had no NT Planet last week. It's been suspended (likely indefinitely) due to lack of interest.

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