Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds
Does your child see the world in pictures? Do you know? Does anyone know?
ADD, ADHD, MRDD, Autism, Dyslexia, and Other Labels!
ADD (attention-deficit disorder), AHDH (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), autism, MRDD (mental retardation and developmental disabilities), special needs, and so on are all labels; and, they mean nothing if you don’t (or can’t) understand your child!
Think about the kind of mind, the kind of person you are trying to reach, because they are all reachable…you just have to use the proper vehicle.
I have tutored ‘special kids” for decades and I know several things:
- Special kids are often misdiagnosed.
- Special kids are often misunderstood.
- Special kids are often labeled early, a label that they are stuck with for life…right or wrong!
- Special kids are categorized and compartmentalized.
- Special kids are often very, very bright!
- Special kids are often mistrustful, mainly because they are misunderstood and mishandled by adults.
- Special kids are often mishandled by “the system,” and particularly by their teachers. The ones who must understand them best, actually understand them least!
- ADD kids often slip through the cracks! Unlike their ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) counterparts, they very often don’t make waves, they are not disruptive in class, and therefore they are not as often identified, at least early on.
- ADD and ADHD may in fact be more about attention immaturity (short but informative video) than an actual attention-deficit!
- Boys are more commonly diagnosed than are girls…but this may be in part due to a diagnosis bias and may be under diagnosed in girls.
- ADD and ADHD is thought to be genetic.
- And so on…this is the tip of a gigantic iceberg!
One of the real tragedies is that so many of these very special children just don’t get the help they need or, if they do get help, it is usually short-lived!
Unfortunately, parents and educators do not see the education and treatment of special kids as a process. They do not see the education and treatment of their child as an endeavor that often takes years; and, they do not, and very often cannot, understand why their child isn’t getting any “better.”
The fact is, many of these kids never get better, at least as we understand “better.” Better in the sense that they fit a mold or simply fit in may never occur…because they are different!
Different does not equal abnormal, disabled, or less-than in some way! Different simply means they are not the same as everyone else!
The word different has been assigned to many things and many people in a less than complimentary fashion, often pejorative:
- Oh! She’s a little different!
- Oh! This is different, isn’t it?
- He is always trying to be different!
- Why are you trying to be so different?
- That certainly is a different look, isn’t it?
- and so on!
Different simply equals different! Not less than. Not better than (although different is generally where greatness originates from), just…well, different!
Unfortunately, because special kids do not fit the mold, yet may in fact redefine the mold later in life, they are often held up to ridicule by peers…because they are different!
The most important lesson I teach all of my students is that being different is a blessing.
Being different is a gift they will find pays incredible dividends throughout their lives!
The funny thing?
Many kids already know, deep down on some subconscious level, that they are brighter, and in some ways better, than their peers. Not better in a judgmental way, not at all. Many of these special kids just seem to have a special knowledge of self; and, many times. they simply need someone other than their parents to tell them they do, in fact, have certain advantages!
After all, parents may be patronizing. Right?
Interestingly, kids, all kids, are sharp enough to know when someone is patronizing or when the message is sincere.
One thing is certain:
ADD (attention-deficit disorder), AHDH (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), autism, MRDD (mental retardation and developmental disabilities), special needs, and so on are all labels! They mean nothing if you can’t understand the child!
Interestingly, they mean nothing if you do know the child!
Our system is failing these children and has been for decades!
Tragically, most adults simply do not get these kids. Most big people just don’t get that special kids don’t “get better,” and that they have a gift.
All of us have gifts!
Unfortunately, many adults have stopped believing in the gifts they once possessed, still possess, as they seek to be less-different…more the same!
It is up to us as parents, as educators, to reach the special child, letting him or her know that it is OK to be just a little different, or a lot different, because they have a gift!
Think about this one:
Perhaps the special child in your life, either your own child or your student (and they are one-in-the-same), is your gift!
Whether as a parent or as an educator, and hopefully you see yourself as both, that special person may be your gift, your opportunity to step up and serve, to make a difference in someone’s life; and, in your own!
Education is a life-long journey and learning is a process, never ending…until we do!
Everyone reaches the same destination in the end and we all share the journey, only the paths we take are different…and yet they are all the same.
Working with special kids, whether ADD, ADHD, autistic, MRDD, or whatever is all about the journey.
To compare these wonderful children, very often with amazing gifts and incredible intellect, to others, simply because they are different, is doing them an incredible disservice…and perhaps irreparable harm!
If you have found the system lacking, and it is, there are alternatives.
Few of the alternatives are short-lived, and fewer still are a quick fix. The quick fix is for the auto body shop and oil changes. Quick fixes are not for special kids, any kids for that matter, they just don’t work…and in the end you will do more harm than good.
Find a quality tutor, a great therapist, and preferably someone who is a lot of both…and stick with them, long-term!
The results will be amazing!
I have seen the miracle happen, have watched children bloom. I have shared in their lives as they discover their own sense of self and I have witnessed special kids, decades later as adults, do great things with their lives.
However, it has never happened overnight, never without the total commitment of the parents and an interested, objective third party.
Whether an educator, a tutor, or a medical practitioner, you need help!
Parents simply can’t do it on their own, they are too emotionally invested and too close to the situation to be objective. That is not to say that the individual you bring in won’t become emotionally invested and even attached, we are all human, but the addition of a professional perspective will do wonders, making an amazing life possible for that little person you are charged with parenting, educating, and preparing for the world.
Life doesn’t have to be about labels and limitations. Life can be an amazing journey, and education a life-long love affair between the individual and what is possible with the proper guidance!
It is up to you!
I hope you enjoy the video below and the link to the video above. They are worth your time.
Thank you for stopping and feel free to comment and pass this along…whether you agree or disagree!
firstname.lastname@example.org (personal email)
PS, This is the site for more great TED talks and the transcript Temple’s TED talk.