Last term I was in developmental psychology for a good, oh, quarter term. During the span of the time in this class, my prof—who was, granted, nearing his seventies—constantly referred to children as their disability first and as children second. NOT okay.
It pissed me off, so I wrote him a stern but not condescending e-mail exemplifying his errors and explaining HOW to rectify his speech. I wrote the message sitting in the front row of his class, and received a simple “thank you, Kerri” in response about ten minutes after class concluded. The next class, he tried to drop an ‘autistic child’ as he had been doing. He got to “autis—“ paused, and said “child with autism”.
I recieved an e-mail that said a child “IS special needs”. [ALL kids have special needs, so I actually don’t like that catch-all too much either].
A child is NOT their difference, their disability, their special need . . .
They are who they are and who they are likely is partly shaped by how they have been socialized to feel about who they are with regard to their disability.
As a leader, a facilitator, a friend, it is important for me to know how I can best adapt a program to ANY child’s unique circumstances. Because knowing SOME level of specifics makes so much make more sense. How chain-reactions occur, what to watch for, and how far it is okay to push—a big thing we’re dealing with at work with some kids right now. As a leader, facilitator and friend, it’s hard to adapt something to a child if there’s something behind the scenes I don’t know about.
But all in all, I still need to know the child, the person first. I go by the same saying with many, if not all, chronic medical conditions, disabilities, et cetera I encounter . . . In my own case “asthma does not define me . . . but it helps explain me”.