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Monday, October 06, 2008

Get out of that wheelchair and RUN to first base!



Dr. Shephard used a great example today in our seminar on ADHD. She talked about her daughter, who is in a wheel chair.

She said,

"My daughter would never have been asked to run to first base. Why? Because she was in a wheelchair, they knew she couldn't run to first base. It wouldn't have been fair, and it wouldn't have been nice."


But we have children who have disabilities just as real as Dr. Shephard's daughter, but these disabilities are hidden under their hair and skull -- they have learning disabilities and ADHD (which she reminded us is a MEDICAL disability.)

Not accommodating them, is like asking a person who is physically unable to run to first base, to get out of that wheel chair and run.

I think the struggle comes from a few things:
  • We believe our eyes. Many of us distrust the diagnosis of others because we've SEEN the misdiagnosis happen।

  • There is no doubt that there are some who are put on medication who don't need it. This makes us angry।

  • Some people "work the system" in the hopes of not having their kids be held accountable. Today, Dr। Shephard talked about the difference between disciplining for behavior due to an LD or ADHD (which we are NOT to do) and having the student make reparations for what they do. (repairing the situation - making it right.) We still need accountability even if we don't punish.

  • We don't know why things have changed। I hear lots of things, "Parents are sorry," "kids are sorry," and yes, "teachers are sorry" -- everyone wants to point the finger. Our society has changed fundamentally - is it any wonder that our brains have changed! Their brains aren't better or worse than those in the last generation -- they are just different.

  • We want to think if we can find a reason for ld and ADHD then we can pinpoint it and we won't have it happen to "us" and "our family." We will remain "normal." But these things affect most families - and if you think that they don't, you may be in denial. I've seen people be adamant enemies of accommodation and then suddenly have a child or grandchild diagnosed with an LD -- they change their tune quickly!
There are not easy answers. But I'm going to tell you that right now, parents, kids, and teachers are all STRESSED OUT. Wagging our fingers at one another and laying blame on someone else does nothing but add to the massive pot of seething stress plaguing our society. We're in this together, and by goodness, we should be working together.

Kindness, mercy, forgiveness, persistence, and hard work are things needed now more than ever. Empathy, education, and hard work are also important.

To me, it is looking at each individual student and working to reach them and what they need to learn and how I can best do it. I am a partner with parents, not the enemy. I do not promise to be perfect, but I do promise to love the children who enter my door. I will work to balance accountability and fairness but know that fairness does not mean that I treat every child exactly the same. Kids who are different need different strategies -- that is a fact.

I look forward to tomorrow with Dr. Shephard. She is and always has been a blessing to me and everything I do. I'm at perhaps over 100 hours of instruction with this amazing educator and she never ceases to impress me. I'll be live blogging again tomorrow.
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