A perspective on the world of disability from a mother and an educator. Follow my blog!

Friday, 21 February 2014

It's not rocket science, but it IS science.

There are some amazing people in the world who go out of their way to adopt or educate children with disabilities. Most of us however, never make that initial choice.

'Hey, wouldn't it be great if my life had more difficulty, more stress, more anxiety, more grief, more hardship? I'd love for my child to have to work harder than everyone else to achieve the same, even though it will most likely be less.'  SAID NO PARENT EVER!

In the same vein, my big girl doesn't wake up in the morning and say, 'You know what, I'm going to try really hard today to annoy my sisters, irritate my teachers, and upset my parents.' I doubt any child wakes up and thinks that to themselves. So much of a child's behaviour is a reaction to context and environment. However, part of the reaction is determined by science.

For some, the influence of science is a greater obstacle than others. T21 means an extra piece of information in EVERY SINGLE CELL of her body. Hands up if you think that might impact on her decision making process? What is easier to change, the actions of the adults around her who are compos mentis or the actions of a child who doesn't fully understand the world around her? Behaviour IS communication and communication IS behaviour.

I can't recall the number of times I have seen teachers try and discipline the 'naughty child' when it was clear as day the child was having difficulty with sensory processing. It's not a choice the child makes, it's the way their brain is wired to interpret the world. IT'S SCIENCE. A friend of mine once told me of doing a day of relief work and being warned of the 'naughty' children in the class - how horrible and rude they were, they couldn't even sit still. She walked into the class to start the day, turned off the fluro lights and the ceiling fans and had a perfectly pleasant day with the children. (PS - You know who you are, you still inspire me!)

Working in early childhood now I am living the dream. Ever since my big girl started early intervention at 2 weeks old I have wanted to do this job. Every child deserves the best possible start to life and I'm so blessed to have the chance to impact not only on the lives of the children, but the families as well. We held an amazing workshop for the children and adults this week that was all about pre-literacy and numeracy - based on neuroscience. How fantastic was it to hear parents talking the day after about how they could positively influence their child's development!

I liken those who so quickly blame the child to those who subscribe to the flat earth theory; those fundamentalists who choose to believe something despite all evidence to the contrary. If you're reading this then you know who I'm referring to. Teaching qualifications in Australia require you to have studied at least some basic educational psychology. Study some more (or say, I don't know, pick up a book or watch tv) and you'll be able to learn even the simple basics of developmental neuroscience. Now apply that knowledge to the children in your care. Stop living in the dark ages of disability.

There are plenty of metaphors to explain how a brain works.

Executive functioning = a steam train changing direction
Memory = a filing cabinet that's not in alphabetical order
Cognition = a spider's web with the threads broken

When you can get your head around what the FACTS are, then you can start changing the variables to get the outcomes you want. If a simple humanities focused mum/teacher like me can understand, then it can't be that hard.

1 comment:

  1. I love your little lettuce quote! Another well written and thought provoking blog xx