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Mom Overreacts When Disabled Son Is 'Set Aside' in Classroom Photo

Posted by on Jun. 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM
  • 48 Replies

Mom Overreacts When Disabled Son Is 'Set Aside' in Classroom Photo

by Kiri Blakeley

One mom is heartbroken and her mind "boggled" that her 7-year-old son was placed off to the side of his second grade class photo, making him stand out more than he already does because he's in a wheelchair. Miles Ambridge, who has spinal muscular atrophy, has one of the biggest smiles in his class, but the photographer placed him completely separate from his classmates, and his mom, Anne Belanger, is spitting mad. She has opted to never show the photo to her son.

Belanger admits that the photo was probably not done to deliberately hurt her son's feelings -- it's clear from the photo that the boy is so far to the side because the end of the wooden bench everyone else is on would have prevented him from being closer to his classmates -- but she feels that this is just one more act of discrimination that Miles will have to endure in his life and it's not fair. She says:

Being picked on and being set aside is horrendous and this was what was happening.

I'm not sure who is picking on Miles -- or if she is just recounting other things that have happened to him. It seems she is incredibly raw and sensitive about her kid's feelings, even if his separation in the photo was done by accident. She says:

I couldn’t comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that this was good composition ... this just boggled the mind ... The only alternative seemed to be to set him aside ... This was not a malicious act, I don’t think it was done on purpose. I just don’t think there was any rational thinking behind it.

The photographer probably figured he had to place the class in the middle of the bench, just like the hundreds of other class pictures he or she had taken. The only other options would have been to put Miles in front of the bench, which may have blocked anyone behind him -- or moved everyone to the side Miles was on, which would have left the teacher standing far to the side. Perhaps there would have been some more creative approaches, but the photographer clearly wasn't Steven Meisel.

I can see why the mom is hurt -- she must feel like yet again her son is being left out, ignored, separated, treated differently. Unfortunately this is something he'll have to deal with on a fairly regular basis throughout his life. But with that big smile, I have a feeling he'll tackle it head on.

After Belanger posted the photo on the photography company's Facebook page, it offered to retake the photo for free. Will be interesting to see how they arrange the kids. Hopefully Miles and his beautiful smile are in the middle this time.

Do you think mom was being overly sensitive or had every right to be upset?

by on Jun. 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Raintree
by Ruby Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 11:15 AM
10 moms liked this

Seriously. Who writes this crap?

She "overreacts" by saying "This was not a malicious act, I don't think it was done on purpose, I just don't think there was any rational thinking behind it." And she's right. There wasn't a lot of rational thinking OR creative thinking- which her non "overreaction" might do something to avoid in future. 

momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM
2 moms liked this

The mom is being overly sensitive.  

Koltie6
by Bronze Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM
11 moms liked this
No not really. When you have a child with special needs then you can judge. She is standing up for something other people take for granted. We all need to be sensitive to needs and feelings of others. God forbid you end up in a wheelchair from stroke or brain tumor. I know if this were your child your comments would be different.
Mommabearbergh
by on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM
She reacted fine to me
diospira
by Bronze Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM
4 moms liked this



Quoting Koltie6:

No not really. When you have a child with special needs then you can judge. She is standing up for something other people take for granted. We all need to be sensitive to needs and feelings of others. God forbid you end up in a wheelchair from stroke or brain tumor. I know if this were your child your comments would be different.

I agree, well said.

I have a son with disabilities and I think no one can judge if they haven't walked that road.

The title assumes the mom overreacted. I'd say the adults present underreacted in obviously not showing sensitivity or thinking of the excluded kid, just maybe about expediency. It wouldn't be okay to set any of the other kids aside, so it's not okay for this boy.

I assume the mom has had to struggle to get what her son needs and deserves just as she did here. More power to her.

Her son looks like an angel.





Be Yourself Everyone Else Is Taken

Elyssa414
by Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:24 PM
5 moms liked this
I think she handled it perfectly. She's not threatening to sue anyone, she just wants her son to not be an outcast in his class photo. She spoke the photographer and the school, and the picture has been retaken. She has educated people on what "inclusion" means, and understands that they weren't being malicious to her son.
Us special needs moms have to walk a very fine line when advocating for our child- we don't want special treatment, we want equal treatment, and sometimes for our children to be treated as equals, special accommodations have to be made.
MeAndTommyLee
by Platinum Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:28 PM
2 moms liked this

She's opted to never show the photo to her son, yet the entire country knows about is and has seen it. 

norahsmommy
by Bronze Member on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM
1 mom liked this
I think the photographer could have balanced the picture better by having the teacher stand on the other side of the bleachers so she was behind the kid in the wheelchair. That way he wouldn't look so distanced.
Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jun. 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM
1 mom liked this

From my experience, I think that when your life contains elements that are considered outside the norm, you do sometimes overreact. Yes, the wc could (and should) have been situated closer to the class.

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