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

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?


Image via hoyasmeg/Flickr

Read More >