Learning Disability Oppression in the USA
William Sterling is one of the most interesting and impressive companions I have ever met. He is a focused and intelligent young man ready to communicate and speak about his personal thoughts and ideas. I met Bill occasionally in the park where he and his friends had their regular lesson in drawing. I was completely stricken by his persistence, determination and will to become a cartoon animator as well as his efforts to improve his drawing skills. Currently William is a high school graduate and plans to enter a college to obtain a degree in Cartoon Animation and has already submitted the application. However he faced some difficulties with obtaining his high school diploma and now is anxious about his capability to study at college as he suffers from dyslexia — a specific learning disability influencing his reading, speaking and other language-related skills (W. Sterling, personal communication, September 12, 2015). William is one of many children in the USA with so called “hidden disabilities”, when a child looks absolutely “normal”, but still cannot complete some tasks easily performed by someone of the same age (Types of learning disabilities, n.d.). There is no generally accepted definition of learning disability and that fact subsequently causes debates on the determination of ways people with these type of disability should be treated (Kavale & Forness, 2000).
Social Oppression Model by Hardiman and Jackson
Due to their special needs children with learning disabilities are subject to intentional and unintentional oppression from the society and especially from their peers. The peculiarities of this problem may be illustrated by using the social oppression model developed by Hardiman and Jackson. According to this model oppression is defined not only as some determined sets of beliefs or assumptions asserting the superiority of one group (the agents, people with no learning disabilities) over another (a William’s group), nor is it reflected though harassment, violence, or discrimination (Torres, Howard-Hamilton & Cooper, 2003). The researchers describe oppression as the denigration of a target social group by agents of another one and point at four key elements specifying the situation of oppression: determination of the “normal” state of affairs by the agent group, differentiated and unequal treatment of the target group members, psychological colonization of the oppressed and their collision with the agents’ social system, and the misinterpretation of the target group’s culture and history provoking their eradication by the agent group’s domination (Torres, Howard-Hamilton & Cooper, 2003).
Applying this model to the William’s case, it is worth noting that children with learning disabilities are suffering the oppression from their peers especially at school, when the former are in a need of special conditions to perform their study.Analyzing the stages of social identity development model by Hardiman and Jackson, William and his friends attending drawing classes with him may be considered to be on the third stage of Resistant. They recognize the existing oppression but do not accept the …