A few times in my career, I wrote medical excuses to keep students from doing homework. I know it sounds ridiculous, but what I saw were students who were in great mental pain, as were their families, from homework that was way beyond their means, especially due to significant mental health disorders that affected their ability to learn and their ability to even engage in the process of learning or wanting to be in a learning environment. When they got home all they wanted to do was crawl under their blankets, but instead their parents felt that they must drag them to the kitchen table and make them do homework. There were a number of times that the student would go off the deep end and the police were called.
Removing homework stabilized the families. The schools had to find a different means of working with the student. In the end, the students didn’t fail – although they would have if they hadn’t turned in their homework. The students did learn.
Have you ever come upon someone who needed help that you didn’t know? Or even someone you knew but felt was somehow different? Did you stop to help? Or did you avert your eyes as you veered away?
This video shows what happened as a social experiment using two individuals: What would you do? One looked like a businessman who fell while trying to use his crutches along a busy street. The other was a homeless man who also fell while trying to use his crutches on a busy street. How did it make you feel to see the difference?
Did you know that this same type of scenario occurs in schools every day with students who are seen as lazy, unmotivated, disrespectful, etc. Having talked with over 3000 of these students in the last 30 years, I have heard their frustration of feeling like they are not being listened to. That they are discounted by teachers and sometimes parents because they are judged on appearances. They feel that no one actually tries to understand how they are struggling, how they are trying but not succeeding academically, socially, or in everything they try to do.
Next time you see a child, adolescent, or student not achieving, will you take a minute to just stop and ask how you can help. Assume that they don’t want to fail, but rather need support to succeed.
I have a colleague in the National Speakers Association who has C4-5 quadriplegia. He has an active speaking career, traveling around the country on his own. He has had to learn many strategies in order to be independent. It was not fast or easy.
He filmed himself doing the task of undressing (not to the explicit level so still rated G) to point out what allowing individuals the time and skills could allow them to achieve.
This is a message I would like all of you to consider as you work with your children or your students and feel that time has run out and you can no longer provide the time to get them to the mastery level of a task. Many of these children can already complete the task but need more time to use their cognitive skills to figure it out.
Too many people take teachers for granted. And they blame them for children not achieving. But, as Hillary Clinton said, it takes a village to raise a child. We need to support each other in helping all children achieve, even if their needs, in order to achieve, are different from the majority of students.
I just got back from 6 days of speaking (3 in Ohio and 3 in Northern California) and I can tell you that there are professionals out there who are looking at how to help the children who function differently. These are the one in six children who have a neurodevelopmental disorder – 1) intellectual disorders, 2) communication disorders, 3) autism spectrum disorders, 4) ADHD, 5) learning disorders, and 6) motor disorders. These children process life differently and need teachers, mentors, and coaches to make the time to teach them the strategies and coping mechanisms to feel functional in the mainstream world of our communities. It is not easy and it is not fast, and YES, it is very tiring. But as this blog states, it does make a difference. It does help keep these children out of jail as they get older.
We still have a long way to go, but believing that as you learn about these children and find people who can help you develop strategies to engage them in learning and understanding social interaction, you will be part of that village that will successfully raise our children.
It is the middle of September and you are already tired. It is scary isn’t it? This tired feeling so early in the school year. If this is what September feels like, how will we ever make it to Thanksgiving? How will we ever survive until May? There is just so much to do. So many new programs to learn, new formats to master, new IEPs and 504 Plans and accommodations to keep track of. It isn’t that you don’t want to do all of things, it is just. There are all of the things. All of the things all of the time, and every year it seems as though there is a new system in place. It will get easier, they say. Once you get used to it. You would like two years with the same program and the chance to get used to it all.
Early language acquisition is instinctive, but parents can have a big impact on accelerating development. Here are some tips to help get kids talking.
Dr. Pat McGuire‘s insight:
How well does your child speak? Where did he learn? These are important questions that are closely related to how you, her parent, interacted with her during daily activities.
This is an extremely well written article that helps you learn the steps and strategies that will help your child develop a well developed language system. And guess what, it doesn’t cost anything but time playing and interacting with your child!
Let me know how many of these strategies you are using with your children. I would also love to hear of additional strategies that you found helpful.
Siblings of children with disabilities are more likely than those with typically developing brothers or sisters to struggle with relationships, schoolwork, behavior and leisure time.
Dr. Pat McGuire‘s insight:
Do you have a child with disabilities? Does he or she have typically developing siblings? Then this is an important article for you.
Raising a child with disabilities is hard. It takes up large blocks of time in your day. This then results in less time to notice, interact, and emotionaly be there for your other children. This doesn’t mean that you are a bad parent. You Aren’t!
What it means is that we have got to find a way as a community, to help the typically developing siblings find their own sense of belonging, of being noticed, and appreciated. There need to be more programs for children with siblings with disabilities that provides an outlook for them to express both what they love about their sibling and parents and what they find unfair. There need to be outlets for parents to be able to be with their typically developing children while someone reliable cares for the child with disabilities.
If you are a parent of a child with disabilities and typically developing children, what are some of your wishes so that your typically developing child can truly feel your love and caring?