Regarding the Jan. 25 story. "Sports a civil right for disabled, U.S. says
As someone who lives with Asperger's syndrome, I know how it feels to be excluded from activities. I believe the U.S. Department of Education is doing the right thing. It has opened up a whole new door of opportunity to disabled students such as me.
I personally advocate for people with disabilities at the state conference known as "Dare to Dream." In my speeches, I tell people to focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. Everyone in this world has challenges. We often focus on what we can't do, rather than what we can. Perhaps the student with the disability will become the school's star athlete and perform the game-winning play one day. Do not ever underestimate the potential of someone with a disability.
The new disabilities directive may not guarantee students with disabilities a spot on competitive teams, but at least it will prevent schools from excluding students based on their disabilities if they can keep up with their classmates.
In sports, the only thing that really matters is having fun, especially in high school. If students with disabilities have fun playing sports, their schools should let them share the experience with their peers.
When I was in high school, I had a teacher who did not think I could do the work in her mainstream class. She put me in a special education class. The following year, I got the help of a new teacher who was willing to work with me. In that school year, I was not only placed back into a mainstream class, but also received all "A"s for my classes. If I can do well in a mainstream class, then why can't someone with a disability do well in a sport?
JOE HATHAWAY JR.