Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It is a time for families to gather together, celebrating our community. It is also a time to honor God and all that he has bestowed on this year, which encompasses joys and sorrows.
I see Thanksgiving as a time for thanking God, in whatever form you view him, for our children. Our children with their strengths and struggles, help us remember the complexity of life and learning. Our children with special needs make us aware of how even the “simple” acts in our daily lives are complex, made of multiple steps, many of which need to occur in a precise order, in order to have the desired outcome.
At this time of Thanksgiving, we need to also pause to consider the barriers to our children that are still present. These barriers slow or stop our special children from reaching their full potential. Some of these barriers require technology to overcome. Some need medication. But too many of them require a change in attitude in our society. Many special children are mislabeled as lazy, unmotivated, disrespectful, oppositional, incapable, and unteachable. Through my 30 years I have found that these same children would be better suited with labels of learning disabled, language disabled, having sensory integration disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and anxiety disorders.
You ask how can these describe the same children? The answer is in knowledge of child development, child behavior, temperament, and brain functioning research. It also lies in the need to take a moment to ask “why” a child is showing the behavior or being noncompliant for a task. That “why” should then lead to interventions and accommodations to allow that child to behave more appropriately and be more compliant.
As we thank God this Thanksgiving, let us also ask for the wisdom to look for the answers to those “whys”. Let’s take the time as we go forward to seek out the teaching, training, and assistance to help our children, our gift from God.