Did you know there is a classroom at your child’s public school called the SDC? You may have wondered what that stands for and what that means, why certain kids are placed in that classroom.
SDC stands for special day classroom. It is set up specifically for children who have learning challenges, such as dyslexia, visual/auditory processing, autism, and other educational challenges. Typically, an SDC has a much lower students-to-teacher ratio. Children with learning challenges require less distraction and small group/individualized attention to follow through with the demands of the school day. They may also have speech therapy, occupational therapy, and visits with a school psychologist. As much as possible, children in an SDC are included with the mainstream population for school-wide activities and assemblies, lunches, and recess. Some children spend limited time in regular classrooms for subjects they excel in. Others with learning challenges may be based in a regular classroom but then be pulled for small-group instruction with a resource teacher who may help with, for example, multisensory learning for visual processing to assist with reading.
The bottom line is that an SDC is a gift to the student who has a learning challenge and who needs the educational and emotional support of caring and highly trained staff to help them to thrive in the school setting. In the best-case scenario, the student will have close relationships with their peers in the SDC, while also making friends in neurotypical classrooms.
What is of prime concern to parents of special needs children is the fear of their child being bullied and/or isolated by peers. So many youngsters with learning challenges have what is called an “invisible disability” in which the child may appear behaviorally like a neurotypical child, but neurologically the child is hard-wired differently. The student may have high-functioning autism in which reading social cues is difficult, and interactions are at times awkward.
Children with special needs are often the targets of bullies during less structured times, such as recess. What parents of all children can do is educate their children about the diversity of learning styles of students. Having a learning challenge does not make a child stupid or a nerd/geek/fill-in-the-blank. In fact, studies show that that the vast majority of children with challenges like attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), dyslexia, or high-functioning autism are often superior intellectually to their neurotypical peers.
Furthermore, a number of famous or successful people have endured such challenges and become shining examples of individuals who harness their strengths and succeed in their endeavors. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, Daryl Hannah, and Dan Aykroyd, for example, were/are considered to have experienced high-functioning autism.
As a culture and a community, we need to embrace different learning styles and not judge, criticize, or condemn someone who looks, acts, or learns differently than the next person. A child with a learning challenge isn’t dumb. They just have different hard-wiring, and they must utilize outside-the-box learning techniques (such as multisensory learning strategies for children with dyslexia).
As the parent of a special needs child, I implore you to teach your children tolerance for differences. Teach them to befriend others with such differences. No one wants their child bullied, their self-esteem shattered because of a cruel comment made by an intolerant peer. Remember that kindness and tolerance are what create peace on this planet, beginning in the home, the school, and the community. And keep in mind, that child who has a learning challenge may just be the next Bill Gates or Leonardo da Vinci.
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