Throughout my brief teaching career, I have always called the model in which a special and general educator work side by side in an classroom of special education and general education students by one name. To me, it’s “collaborative team teaching.” In each class I’ve taken for my special education certification, and this is my third, I have heard people argue almost to the point of vehemence that the model is now called “integrated collaborative teaching.”
Fine. No big deal, really.
But there’s a problem. Those same people who insist that we use the new acronym ICT to refer to what, regardless, is still CTT, are the ones who flippantly, without consideration, throw around terms describing kids as “autistic,” “learning disabled,” and even, I shudder to type, “handicapped.”
Those words are no longer being in vogue. They are loaded labels. I know people don’t realize the severity of their offenses. They don’t even take it as an offense. But what happens when a child is called “autistic,” for example, is this: that child is autistic as an identity. In other words, the child with autism ceases to be an individual. Now, she becomes a disorder.
It’s the philosophy of person-first language. Kids are kids. People are people. That’s a universal law of acceptance. Despite differences, really, everyone is the same. So with that necessary level of acceptance, it’s imperative that educators, who are at the forefront with parents in advocating for students with disabilities, realize the power of their words.
No one will ever hear me refer to a child with autism as autistic. To me, it’s almost a slur. There is something inherently devaluing of an individual when you define them as one thing and nothing else.
To bring it back to the CTT/ICT issue, I look at it like this: Isn’t it unreasonable, as a professional, and even somewhat selfish and egocentric, to push the term ICT over CTT, when these same people haphazardly throw around injurious, pigeonholing terms to refer to the kids they are charged with serving?
CTT, ICT, ABC, XYZ, it really doesn’t matter to me what it’s called. In describing a model, there’s no harm being done to anyone. But to hang a flashing neon sign that says “AUTISTIC” around the neck of a child who is at her core, just a child? Isn’t that doing more harm than good? Isn’t it wrong?