would like to extend an invitation to change your mindset about how you approach “helping” and “providing specialized support” for children.
Throughout my training as a Speech Language “Pathologist” I studied “normal” development and “disorders”. The purpose of a Pathologist is to find “Pathology”. As I have gained experience over the last 25 years, I have learned a lot about “development” and all of the “different ways” the brain develops as well as the impact of environmental factors.
We are not born “normal” or “disordered” or with a “disability” we “are born” and “we develop” in many different ways. Along our path of development we will encounter various influences and each individual will respond to those experiences differently. The brain actually continues to develop well into adulthood!
Speech Language Pathologists have learned about Language Development, and “Late Talkers” but the training has been about something being wrong with the child’s development or brain. The role of the SLP, Special Educator or School Psychologist is to diagnose the child with a Language Disability, or an Articulation Disorder, a Cognitive Impairment. These labels imply that there is something wrong.
What if the question was posed: “What happened to the child who has Cerebral Palsy or Traumatic Brain Injury”? Looking back at the child’s life with a sense of curiosity about how they responded to different experiences, growing and changing from the day they were born, or even before they were born (in utero), will give us different and potentially useful information about how they engage with others and respond to the structure as well as academic and social demands at school and in society.
What if every child is truly considered an individual with their own brain and their own experiences and their own developmental path?
Children are constantly compared to the Academic Standards and Normative Data collected for tests and assessments. Frequently SLPs, Special Educators and Psychologists have challenges identifying children’s special needs accurately because they don’t fit into the criteria provided in rules and regulations that the government requires. The question asked is: Are they “eligible” and “in need” of “special” education? Instead of “What is/has happening/happened to them?
Let’s begin at the beginning:
A Child may have been born to parent/s who are homeless or experiencing addiction, their parents may be going through a terrible divorce, or they may have a parent struggling with mental illness.
When considering the whole picture, what is underlying the parent’s addiction/divorce or mental illness? Why? What is going on for them? What is the pain they are trying to alleviate? Are there stresses in the home? Do they have enough money to pay the bills? Do they have the love and support they need from their family? Well, this is where we have to dig a little deeper…
From a scientific/neurobiological standpoint, Daniel Siegel talks about how the different parts of the brain connect and interact with the body to establish wellbeing. The brain responds to relationships by making connections and maintaining a status of “well-being”, where neurons can connect and fire and access the appropriate parts of the brain for thinking and making decisions. This research is new and so important. Are you open to integrating it into your prior knowledge?
One of the ways to do this is through reflection. Self reflection allows one to better understand personal development and the ability to discern a state of wellbeing.
Please understand, I don't think the intention of diagnosing and making children eligible for special education is to make them feel that there is something wrong with them at all!
After reflecting on this from a Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) Growth Mindset Science and Trauma Informed Approach, Child Trauma – and asking: What is happening for you? What has happened to you? What can I do to connect with you? The child is being viewed differently and there is a new experience that unfolds in understanding children’s behavior and learning abilities.
Now I know you still need to write that evaluation report or Individualized Education Plan… I can help with that… you are not alone! You can shift your mindset…and the work you do with children will reflect what you truly believe.
This is the invitation…
1. Reflect on this video… We are who we teach, by Parker Palmer.
2. Ask these questions while you review files and the write the story of a child since their birth to the present.
What has happened to you?
What is happening for you?
What can I do to connect with you?
In addition I am offering a variety of complementary coaching sessions for the month of May where you can register as an individual or as a team. Coaching Invitation to Co-Create Change and Mindset
I look forward to hearing your responses and Co-Creating Change with you!