By Andy Wheeler '08

For the fall semester of 2006, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. In my class, Children with Special Needs: Danish Theory and Practice, I learned about an alternative way to treat children with special needs. For example, in Denmark, there is not nearly the same stress on medicating children as there is in the United States.

I worked at an after-school program with about 15 children, all of whom had some diagnosis for a mental disorder, but not one of them was on medication. Instead of prescribing drugs for them, these children were given an appropriate environment that allowed them to be who they naturally were. In this specific environment, the children were allowed to socialize without any discrimination for being 'that kid' who's different from all of the other kids.

What this experience taught me was how important the appropriate environment is for the self-worth of a child. Changing the environment to fit the children is a more positive way to treat them than medicating them to fit their environment.