Thursday, 6 March 2014

Ghettos Are Not The Answer...


Have you ever been told that a child with Cerebral Palsy will never walk, let alone talk, and then spent two years proving them wrong – I HAVE and the little girl walked to school and talked the hind legs off a donkey (and old English saying).  Have you ever been told that a child is being ‘treated’ for ADHD and has no concentration span greater than 10 minutes – I HAVE and then seen him spend three hours building an obstacle course and being proud of it, then saw him become a thriving child off of medication.  And this is only two examples of thousands (and since I have been doing this since 1969 ‘thousands’ is a fact not an exaggeration).

So what magic do we have that makes this happen.... it’s easy really, it’s about treating all children equally and giving them exposure to everybody and everything. We mix all children together equally, irrespective of their ‘labels’. 

As soon as you label people together you create a ghetto in my book.  That could be a ‘rich’ ghetto or a ‘special needs’ ghetto or a ‘lowest 25%’ ghetto and the outcomes are normally the same – the labels stick and the children develop into their mould...

So put a baby with Cerebral Palsy into a room full of children with CP and guess what.... Medicate a child with anti ADHD pills and they will always need them..
The extreme proof, if you need it, is to look at what happened when you put perfectly healthy Rumanian babies into ‘orphanages’ where they are left in cots 23 (if not 24) hours a day and see how they develop....

The great big melting pot we heard about in the 1970’s song was right... If you expose everybody to everything – give them an opportunity to shine and share – what you can focus on is giving everyone a real equal opportunity..... and watch them grow... 


                                                                             Tom x

2 comments:

  1. and short sighted people with other short sighted people...

    I do not see them as labels... and maybe this is part of the problem when there are people seeing them as labels rather than a name that opens up a toolbox for the right support... each child is unique... each child needs there own support and challenges... we follow an understanding that children develop in similar ways (not the same, and not at the same time or even order... but there is a blueprint of sorts)...

    The blue print can help us support these children with the TOOLS they need in just the same way that glasses can help people with short/long sightedness...

    The problem is not the diagnoses... the problem is the attitude to these diagnoses...

    I have fought long and hard to get a diagnosis for my son... so that I could demand that he gets the support in school that he is entitled to. That the teachers can be better equipped to understand my son by learning more about ADHD...
    concentrating for long periods of time is not a problem for children with ADHD IF it is something that interests them... BUT if they end up in lessons where they are not interested and lack the motivation, support and structure... then they will not learn and not thrive in school and can easily be seen as a "problem". My son is intelligent... he is creative.. he is loving...

    BUT there are things he needs help with... to understand directions, to understand interactions with others... so that he CAN follow the group rules and not be accused of cheating because he has followed the rules as HE has understood them...

    Your statement that children with ADHD cannot concentrate shows that you are also buying into the myth of what these diagnoses are about... I want the truth to come out... not the myths - and these myths are the problem of children being in a "ghetto" - because there is no real understanding of what these children need... just a label...

    of course being an observant and understanding teacher will mean that these children do not need any labels because the teacher is able to respeond to the needs of the child and ensure that these children thrive... which seems to have been the case for you... you see the child and meet their needs...

    sadly not all adults have this gift... and a diagnoses can be a good thing - not to label the child... BUT to hand over a tool box so that the child's needs are met and the child is not being seen merely as a problem with a label...

    (more to come - this message ended up being to long to post)

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    Replies
    1. children are not problems... the child is just in a problem situation... we as adults/teachers need to look at the situation to see how this child can thrive... and this is why having the tool boxes can be extremely useful...


      As you can see I feel very strongly about this...

      I agree we should expose children to the big melting pot style of learning... but sadly schools are becoming more and more rigid... which means there is not enough flexibility to meet the needs and use the tool boxes...

      Not all ADHD children are medicated... my son is not... although in a heartbreaking discussion with him he asked if there was medicine so that he could take it away... he is aware of how it gets in his way... and this is a great step for him to learn to control it... it is exhausting for him and us as parents... and also for his older sisters... the diagnosis allows his sisters to also understand that his behaviour is not something personal against them, but because it is so much harder for him to control his impulses than for them... it is so much harder for him to see the same connections, follow instructions, participate in team games etc etc

      he does all of these... but they have all been a process, we have had to take small steps and support him all the time.

      I DON'T treat children equally... I treat children as they need to be treated. I respect and value children equally... but children do not want or need to be treated equally... they need to have their own individual needs met... some need more support, some need more challenge, some need more closeness, some need more freedom....

      It's like the cartoon of the children with six boxes... equal treatment means that they each get 2 boxes... which means that the smallest child cannot see over the fence, the middle child JUST sees over the fence and the tallest child is well clear of the fence.... meeting the child's needs means that the tallest get's one box, the middle get's 2 boxes and the smallest get 3 boxes... and now they can all see over the fence... now they all have equal opportunity...

      this is how I see special needs... they are the children who need two or more boxes to be given an equal opportunity... some need a box for the social skills as well as the learning skills, while others need an extra box for the learning or social... depending on which skill needs most support... or maybe even motor skills...

      Of course I cannot explain properly what i mean in just one short text... but hopefully there is an understanding that maybe society is looking at the diagnoses WRONG... and that it is just the same as diagnosing a person with the measles, flu, chicken pox, pneumonia, cancer, diabetes.... once you know what it is you can treat the person correctly so that they can thrive...

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