New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense

Disability Is Natural Books and Media

The well-meaning efforts of health care and service providers, educators, and others—including parents—may lead to less-than-desirable outcomes when we are not intentionally mindful of the potential consequences to a person’s heart and mind.

Kathie Snow

Hearts and Minds

Great efforts are expended to help or treat the bodies and brains of children and adults with disabilities. But do we give much thought to their hearts and minds? Do we ever wonder if all the “help” may actually be harmful to the whole person?

When my 19-year-old son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of four months, I embraced Conventional Wisdom (the dictates of physicians, therapists, and early intervention providers), and Benjamin began physical and occupational therapies. This, I was told, was best for Benjamin, so we did as much therapy as possible! Like many others, I mistakenly equated effort with progress.

I also gave little or no thought to my son’s heart and mind. By accepting the wisdom of Experts, no more thinking on my part seemed necessary. Thankfully, however, when my son was three, my comfort zone was challenged by adults with developmental disabilities I met in the Partners in Policymaking leadership training program. Hoping to learn from them, I asked about their childhoods and was shocked by their collective responses. “I wish I could have made my parents happy...They always wanted me to walk [or talk or achieve some other functional skill], so they took me to therapy for years. But I wasn’t able to walk [or whatever], so I know I let them down...and I wish they could have loved me just the way I am."

”Whoa—this eye-opening experience helped me understand the message of therapy to a child:“ You are not OK the way you are." Click here to continue.