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Hummel column: The 14th Annual Day-In, Day-Out Academy Awards

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

Every year about this time, the Motion Picture Academy awards Oscars to the best actors, actresses, movies, music, sound effects (24 categories) of the movies of the past year. This year will be the 91st year.

The big Oscar celebration will be on Feb. 24. It's the glamour business: glitz, fame, fortune, big egos, plunging necklines and long speeches. But my DIDO awards are not about Hollywood, they're about the day-in, day-out (DIDO) services of ordinary, hard working men and women who perform needed services, but are unknown and unrecognized for the good things they do.

Celebrities aren't important here. What we're doing in this column, for the 14th consecutive year. is to announce awards from our own DIDO Academy, giving recognition and a pat on the back to those who serve their fellow men and make our lives better.

In past years we have recognized a shoe repair couple, a cheerful bakery lady, a once-in-a- lifetime secretary, a class of ambitious technical college students, nursing home workers, railroad engineers, over the road truckers, firemen, two-job workers, convenience store clerks, those who stand by day after day on call for emergencies, those who deliver papers every day of the year, all holidays included, and last year we honored folks who cleaned: school custodians, commercial and church custodians, domestic workers, sanitation workers, and highway ditch volunteers — all doing important day-in and day-out services for all of us.

This year we honor folks who work with children and adults with special needs. The special needs include those who may have been born with a syndrome (Down Syndrome and Cornelia deLang Syndrome are two I'm familiar with), terminal illness, profound cognitive impairment or serious psychiatric problems.

Or the special needs may involve struggling with learning disabilities, developmental delays or panic attacks. Children with learning disabilities like dyslexia and auditory processing disorder (APD) struggle with schoolwork regardless of their intellectual abilities. They require specialized learning strategies to meet their potential and avoid self-esteem problems and behavioral difficulties.

There are special needs students in the school just down the street from you. Approximately 10 percent of the children in public schools receive some form of special education.

The goal of the school is to establish an independent program for each student that will meet his or her specific needs. An Individual Education Program (IEP) is established for each student that may include mainstreaming, separate instruction or some combination approach.

The aim of the program is to help each child reach his or her potential. These children will eventually become adults and will need to cope with the adult world.

This article will not explain exactly how special education works because I don't know. The purpose here is simply to recognize those who deal with special needs children and adults, including special education teachers and workers. The few I know haven't chosen their occupations casually. Theirs is not a job, but a calling — a calling that requires extraordinary patience, a tender heart, compassion and love.

They require specialized training and specialized skills (and attitudes). They work hand in hand with parents who don't always understand all the dimensions of the needs of their children.

But, to take it a step further, we're not just talking about special education teachers. We're talking about aides, assistants, case workers, counselors and even law enforcement and probation personnel.

We're talking about folks who provide temporary assistance by being foster parents. We're talking about parents who knowingly adopt special needs children. And finally, we're talking about men and women who recognize those with special needs and extend patience, understanding, a helping hand and love to those who really need it.

You all deserve Oscars for your good heart.