It's one of those videos so inspiring that it just keeps coming back. An autistic teen named Jason McElwain finally gets the ball in the last game of the season for the Greece Athena High School basketball team. And suddenly, the special ed student is on fire, shooting basket after basket.
It's the kind of viral video you want to watch again and again, with a goofy grin on your face. But even as I'm smiling, a little anger has crept in. Jason McElwain nailed it. He did what any high school basketball star would in a game. So why was he only put in in the last game of the season? Why was he stuck being the team's manager all this time?
Is it because he had autism, because he was a special education student? Is it because -- as it so often happens -- he was underestimated?
I realize I'm stretching a bit here. Jason seems to have been very happy to have been the basketball team manager for several years. If that's what he wanted, then great!
But I watched him nail those shots, and I can't help but wonder "what if?" What if he wasn't treated as a special education student but just as a student?
I've seen it happen more than I'd like to admit. Whether it's an autistic child who people assume can't do things because of pre-conceived notions about what it means to be on the spectrum or a deaf child treated like they're stupid simply because they can't hear. It's sad. It's depressing. But it happens!
So today I watch this video and I do smile -- I smile for what Jason McElwain has shown to the world, that kids with special needs shouldn't be underestimated, that they can do wonderful things. I just hope people are listening:
Do you feel like your child is underestimated because of his or her special needs?
Image via acidpix/Flickr