A New Therapeutic Paradigm: From Doing to Being
New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense
I worked in a school for kids with autism and I interviewed the families. I learned that their worlds revolved around the condition of autism. They had very difficult days and nights, and they couldn’t enjoy vacations or even family dinners! I thought, "Shame on me!" I had been doing things to kids, but had done nothing to help the family as a whole! Putting a kid on a scooter board is not going to "fix" him. I realized I needed to focus on doing things so a child and his family could have good days and nights, good family vacations, good dinners, or anything else!
This article is an eye-opening interview with therapists/university professors who are helping their students learn new ways to assist children and adults with disabilities. Following is a brief excerpt:
Q: How is the class you’re teaching (“Neurological Issues and Interventions”) different from the way you were taught?
Beth: We begin by talking about children without disabilities and the importance of every child having opportunities to participate in typical environments and activities. We also talk about ways of looking at children differently—as children, first—instead of diagnoses, and the importance of focusing on children’s interests and abilities, what they want to do, need to do, and are expected to do. Then problem-solving the supports they need to do these things emerges. Students soon realize that the only way to learn these things is by talking to the child and the family! And when this occurs, we see very positive outcomes for the child and family. We want our students to first learn what’s important to the child. We don’t get into typical therapeutic issues—like assessments—until two months into the class.
Rene: And beyond focusing on what the child wants to do, we help students learn about the cultural piece. For example, what is the environment in a school classroom? What are expectations for the child? How can I influence the teacher’s expectations of the child in that environment? Sometimes you can best support the child by addressing what’s going on in the environment. Click here to continue.