I am watching an episode of “Good Times”. In this particular episode the writers decided to introduce the subject of retardation/ being hard-of-hearing. Maybe the issue was near and dear to them, I don’t know. It is so funny to see how Special Ed. issues were handled back then; sometimes it’s even funny to see how it’s handled now.
The episode I’m watching is about a little boy named Larry who nearly fell down the elevator shaft that wasn’t working. Do you remember that episode? He almost fell but Keith (Thelma’s husband) caught him at the last minute. Yeah, that’s the one. Well, the story begins with Florida bringing Larry home with her because she had to rescue him from a fight on her bus. She rescued him because he was getting picked on since he was incorrectly labeled mentally retarded.
So, Florida brought him home with her and called his mother so the boys wouldn’t continue the beating he was given earlier. While waiting for his mother, Florida cautions Keith and everyone in the house to treat him carefully since he’s “special”. They weren’t supposed to correct him or let him know that he was wrong. They were simply to smile and humor him.
In the meantime he plays games with the family and turns out to be surprisingly good at them. He even beats Michael at checkers, which leads Florida to a surprising conclusion- the boy isn’t “special”, he just can’t hear. So she decides to talk to his mother about it.
When his mother arrives and Florida speaks to her the mom won’t listen. Even when Florida tries to caution his mother that he’s hard of hearing, she acts like it’s something so horrible that she doesn’t even want to acknowledge it. When I think about how things were back then, it’s kinda’ funny (Not laughable funny, but ironic funny). That episode is about 30 years old and lots has changed. No that’s not true. Now that I think about it, I have to ask what has changed. That’s a good question. What has changed?