Last week we discussed changing our mindset from support to equipping. Without changing our mindset it can be incredibly tough for us to take on the notion of “teaching”. It is why so many children who have a ‘label’ or ‘diagnosis’ don’t acquire many new skills throughout their schooling. In some people’s minds they think a diagnosis of autism, for example, means that a child will be socially challenged so therefore they are removed from the social world or have expectations lowered. We can only possibly achieve what is expected of us and our own expectations are often shaped and created by those around us.
A child with a language and communication delay or ‘disorder’ is often not expected to learn communication readily, therefore people often speak for these children as opposed to equipping them with the tools to talk and therefore acquire more language.
The mindset of ‘the disability IS the child’ (which is unfortunately a prominent notion) impacts a professional’s and a family’s ability to take on the notion of "teaching”, making it very tough for them to implement ways to shape and increase language and skills.
In both Australia and the UK there is a pretty vocal population (in both community and medical) in the disability sector that pushes the notion that your child IS their disability and that there is no need to try and "change" them. The view is that instead you should focus on just "supporting" their needs. We all require support in different areas, but we are all made to learn every moment of every day and we all CAN learn.
If you truly believe that your child IS their disability, then you must believe that your other child’s strengths and weaknesses ARE them too. For example, what about your child who is poor at math or who is failing at English? If those weaknesses actually ARE them as a person, there would be no need for enrichment classes, no need for additional tuition, no reason to equip a child with more math or English skills….no real need to acquire skills in any area or go to university…. The list goes on….
Perhaps we should all alter our mindset and expand our vision?