Asian American Youth with Special Needs Struggle to Gain More Recognition, Aid By Tamara Treichel
Asian American students have the reputation of being high achievers, diligent, obedient, and, in short, any teacher’s dream – the “perfect students.” This has led to the “model minority” myth regarding Asian Americans. Yet one should regard all stereotypes with caution.
As Kim Wong Keltner humorously and yet also poignantly pointed out in her memoir Tiger Babies Strike Back, not all Asian American children consistently churn out A’s – there are also the middle-of-the-roaders, namely those who get B’s. And of course, there are Asian American students who perform poorly or who even have special needs, an umbrella term which encompasses a large range of disabilities, such as ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, etc.
For example, in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua mentions her youngest sister Cindy, who has Down’s Syndrome. Yet references to persons with special needs are rare enough in America’s popular and literary culture, and they are especially rare where Asian Americans are concerned – after all, where are today’s Asian American counterparts to Charlie in Flowers for Algernon, Raymond in Rain Man, or Benjy in The Sound and the Fury?