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Archive for November 18th, 2013

emergingtechwordlecloud

This past summer I read a book that made me … ponder my career field.

I work as an Educational Assistant in a middle school. Within this field I get to work with students who have been diagnosed as having special needs (don’t we all?), as well as those who simply struggle to learn at the typical speed or style as the majority of their peers. I also get to work closely with those who teach these students, and their parents … it’s a team mentality, with all striving for the best from each particular student.

Is it perfect? no.

Is it good? yes.

I love my job!

At the end of last year, a student in the high school I worked, handed me a book and said I should read it (I learned long ago, that when a child or teen says such a thing, it is imperative that I do so). As I read, “Look Me in the Eye“, by John Elder Robison, I began to ponder my training to work as an Educational Assistant.

John is a successful adult, who happens to also have autism.

This, then, has led me re-visit the life of Temple Gandin. Another successful adult, living with the challenges that autism can bring to an individual (and those who love them).

In the past month I have been investigating these two individuals, listening to them speak, reading what they have written, on their lives, and their needs, and their strengths as well as weaknesses.

I have realized that my formal education in special needs taught me little about what those with special needs know. Instead I was taught what psychologists, behavioral specialists, doctors and teachers believe they know about everything from autism to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21) to Fragile X to hearing impairment and so on.

If a person wanted to learn the piano would you learn more from someone who studies pianos, or one who plays them?

If a person wanted to learn about cooking would they go to a food critic or a chef?

If a person wanted to learn about building a house, would you learn more from a building inspector or a builder?

I would say that in each of the above comparisons, one would learn the most from both professionals … just as one working with those with special needs should learn from those who study the various special needs, as well as learning from those with the special needs themselves.

After all, is it they who have something to teach us.

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