The Administration preferentially chooses to withdraw support, promoting social exclusion and limiting future opportunities for minors with cerebral palsy. The ASPACE Confederation legal advisory service has interceded for 4 families in Castilla y León to maintain inclusive schooling for minors with cerebral palsy, managing to maintain support for inclusion that works.
Education is one of the pillars for the construction of citizenship. From a young age we advance year by year through curricular content, growing with them and incorporating knowledge that will make up our basic education and will be the only tool we will have to access higher education and, later, a profession that will allow us to be adults. free, independent and with critical capacity.
This is something we take for granted in our country. Anyone shares a referential framework of what school, recess, exams meant; what it meant to have studied in a specific center and how teachers marked us. However, the signing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Spain has been necessary so that we look beyond the reality of the majority and let’s think about what future opportunities we are giving to minors with disabilities throughout their academic development.
The educational itinerary of minors with cerebral palsy depends, in essence, on your support needs. The characteristic multiple disabilities of people with cerebral palsy causes them to each case is different and therefore have different support needs in the physical, the intellectual or in the field of communication, among others.
In our country, 80% of people with cerebral palsy have high support needs; For this reason, a large part of these minors spend most of their training in a Special Education Center. For others, however, it is possible and positive to develop their training in ordinary education or even with combined formulas in which specific professionals in the care of cerebral palsy and school teachers participate in a coordinated manner.
However, even students with lower support needs are find it difficult to live in inclusive settings which, in theory, are objectives of the new educational policies. In a commitment to inclusion, everything is not worth everything or nothing, nor continue to compartmentalize people according to whether they have disabilities or not. Inclusion policies must take into account the support needs of each case and have sufficient resources to achieve educational inclusion in collaboration with all social agents.
A minor with very high support needs may need only a special education center. As there are also minors who can enjoy combined modalities and even ordinary education incorporating small supports and adaptations that, in this case, depend more on the institutional will than on the available resources. But when push comes to shove families find lack of resources for inclusion, lack of interest on the part of the Administration and, what is more frustrating, lack of empathy for their reality.
When friendships and inclusion are not enough
One day a child is born with cerebral palsy. And it is a miracle. Many are born prematurely and lives are saved that would otherwise be doomed, professionals of early stimulation come into play. But then this support disappears. “When he is little he is very well cared for”, explains Miriam González, “the early care service is very good. But as she gets older you realize that you are staying alone ».
Miriam is the mother of Daniel, a nine-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy with physical support needs mild enough to allow him to attend an ordinary center with his twin brother and sister, both older than him. “The brother is older by seconds” specifies Jesus, the father. Daniel goes to class with his brother, where he receives their support and the teachers alone makes curricular adaptations in physical education. In the afternoons he receives physiotherapy sessions at a special education school, outside of school hours. «It was an agreement that was reached that allowed inclusion without losing class hours, which has had a very positive impact on Daniel’s life:«Until now it has been like one more child. That he has gone to an ordinary school has allowed us do not notice the differenceHe has many friends and is very well integrated »
Daniel is proof that educational inclusion in collaboration between special and ordinary centers is not only possibleIt works and offers more opportunities for children with cerebral palsy. And also that these initiatives work as long as the institutional will lasts.
In March, Miriam and Jesús received a notice from the school counselor, who transmitted a decision from the center that put Daniel’s inclusion, family stability and the child’s future at risk: «They consider a substantial change that their older sister I left the center, ”explains Miriam,“ the counselor told us that the revision was due and that he could only stay by giving up external physiotherapy. Otherwise he had to change schools ».
Despite parental requests and arguments against the decision, the center not only did not give its arm to twist, but did not offer any inclusive alternative by making a segregating bet that violated Daniel’s rights and that it put at risk the continuity of a physiotherapy treatment essential for their qualification for participation. “If we stayed, the school would not offer a physiotherapy service. As the State already has a special education college, that is where the service is offered to me because it is the specific college where it is called. Miriam felt more and more alone. The times when early care support provided stability and security were suddenly a long way off.
Father and mother presented a brief of allegations that has remained unanswered until the intervention of the legal advice of Confederación ASPACE. In the process have faced pressure to drop out of school physiotherapy special education because, as the educational inspection told them, “they knew about the case and it was very clear what it was about.”
Ángeles Blanco, head of Rights and Legal Advice of the ASPACE Confederation, emphasizes that “inclusive education it inevitably requires the endowment of human and material resources. The only legally admissible answer is to have the necessary resources to include the minor. Hence, from the ASPACE Confederation we have submitted a substantiated letter to both the Office of Attention to Disability (OADIS) and the General Directorate for Disability in order, in a collaborative way, to obtain a solution adapted to the Law to consolidate Daniel’s inclusive situation ”.
The intervention of Confederación will allow, according to government sources, to maintain a good practice of inclusive education whose withdrawal was unjustified and disproportionate. As Miriam used to say, “we are not asking for more resources or overstrain. It is something that is compatible and that’s it. In any case, and while the situation materializes in practice, the Legal Advisory service will remain vigilant until the actual provision of the physiotherapy resource, ”asserts Blanco.
Right to choose an itinerary
“According to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, I have the right to access a higher education,” explains Pablo, a 16-year-old student in the 4th year of ESO in ordinary public education who faces barriers in deciding how to continue his training .
Pablo has support and adaptations at school: a person is by his side during school hours to offer him the necessary support to participate in the class routine. For most of their classmates, the most complicated of the next course will be, precisely, make the decision about what to do. He is clear about it: «I would like to study something related to the social sciences to be administrative», but his problem is another, it does not matter if he chooses high school or professional training “In any case they make it difficult for me to have the support I need.” At the end of compulsory education, the Administration considers that there is no obligation to have these supports either.
Pablo is aware that “if they do not give me any support, it is a violation of my rights.” That is why he contacted the legal advisory service of Confederación ASPACE. “The case of Pablo is the case of many adolescent people with cerebral palsy. Human and material resources end with compulsory schooling and this implies that, de facto, people with cerebral palsy cannot continue their studies on an equal basis with the rest of the citizenry. Pablo needs a Technical Educational Assistant (ATE) and the educational Administration has to provide it at all stages of schooling without exception. At the moment, we have reached an agreement with the educational center, but it is not a matter of adopting exceptional solutions, but of mandatory inclusion of resources in all Education regulations, ”says the Legal Adviser of Confederación ASPACE.
They are not isolated cases
The rights of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities with high support needs they are continually in question and require special protection in all areas. The social awareness actions necessary to transform biased perspectives must be accompanied by transformative policies that understand that participation and inclusion are possible through appropriate supports.
Since its creation last year, the legal advisory service has served 242 cases of rights violations. Four of them in the last month had to do with the right to education and all have been resolved in a positive way for people with cerebral palsy, their families and, above all, their rights. And we still discover more cases in the media, such as that of Anchel and her family who are collecting signatures to allow her to study a medium VET degree in computer science.
Complaint, political advocacy and public awareness are the only tools available to families and people with cerebral palsy through the coverage of entities such as the ASPACE Confederation, which they themselves promote. Otherwise they would be alone in the face of injustice, in the face of good words that do not lead to the change that, deep down, all of society wants because an inclusive society, made for everyone, is the best in which we can live. With Pablo fulfilling his dream of being an administrator. With Daniel being able to decide what to do with his life and living it with the greatest possible autonomy.