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Kill the Turkeys! Life lessons for people with disabilities.

Preschool turkey handprint

Isn't this cute, I'll save it forever

Hand-Print Turkeys

The first time Aaron brought home a hand-print turkey he was 3 years old and I thought it was adorable.

HOWEVER

When Aaron was 25 years old and brought home the same hand-print turkey, I was livid.

Kill the Turkey!

What’s the difference? Same kid, same activity. Why is one turkey a treasure, another only fit for the garbage?

The difference is the educational and philosophical debate between “developmentally age-appropriate” and “chronologically age-appropriate” activities for people with autism and developmental disabilities.

In a previous post, I introduced Dr. Lou Brown’s ecological assessment tool the “Life Space Analysis” (click here) This planning tool for people with disabilities helps identify the when, where, who and what fills a person’s day and gives clues on a person’s quality of life–though this tool can be useful for all of us.

1970s: The Birth of Special Education

Back in the 70s when IDEA was passed and people with disabilities first got the right to go to public school, everyone was trying to figure out how people with disabilities learned? What were the appropriate activities and curriculum? If you want more information about this time period click here: Parallels in Time II.”

Dr. Lou Brown and his colleagues found adolescents and adults across the country playing with infant toys. The “what” in their Life Space Analysis consisted of meaningless activities repeated every day like: coloring, stacking blocks, putting colored rings on tubes, playing with wooden puzzles and generally keeping Fisher Price in business.

The rationale was these students were eternal children. It didn’t make any difference what they did. There were no expectations. They had low IQs and were functioning at a preschool or early childhood developmental level. So teachers used materials and activities matching the student’s developmental levels. For example: If a person had an IQ of 50 and a developmental age of 5.2 (6 years and 2 months), then the person with the disability should do activities that matched what a normal 5.2 month old child would do. It didn’t matter if the “child” was actually 19 or 35, or 70 in chronological years.

2010: Adult Services

I have to admit, I thought the idea of developmental age was long dead. Aaron went to public school and had plans for his future as an adult (click here). He had a functional community based curriculum, he had a transition plan, and he had work experiences. Plus, the research in the whole field of special education and adult services, strongly supports the idea of chronologically age-appropriate activities.

So, again: What’s the Problem?

In my recent round of looking at adult day care for people with disabilities and the elderly, I have been shocked out of my mind to find rooms with Fisher Price toys. I know the toys are indestructible, but come on. They are NOT AGE-Appropriate! If the toy package says ages 3-6, then if you are over 6 years old, it is not age-appropriate.

Schools vs. Adult Day Care

The difference between best practice in the schools and best practice in adult services is the fact that the staff and teachers are licensed. They have training and have studied the research literature about best practices. They have done student teaching and got first hand experiences under mentor teachers.

The people who run and work in the adult day care systems are lovely people who have high school diploma’s (or GEDs) and because the job pays little more than minimum wage, they get no inservice, no vision of what CAN happen. They have the reality of too many people with disabilities, not enough help, and no training. So making preschool turkeys, or paper plate pilgrims makes sense to them. The materials are cheap and the activity matches their developmental ages.

Thankful?

Being Thankful

I am thankful Aaron has some place to go during the day. (Some states have nothing and the people sit at home.)

I am thankful these kind people don’t abuse and hurt Aaron.

I am thankful they take him to the bathroom, wipe up his messes, help him eat his lunch, and do their best.

But, they send home a paper plate bunny, toilet paper firecracker, macaroni Santa… And I am not thankful.

I don’t have an answer. I have tried to send in more age-appropriate materials and resources. I have tried to show alternative activities. And they are not thankful.

Comments:

What do you think? Is my age-appropriate rant just silly? What do you think I should do the next time Aaron brings home a preschool craft? Do you think the types of activities makes a difference to the people with disabilities?

If this makes sense and you want to spread the word, please retweet or link to Facebook. We have a whole lot of people to reach before the Christmas and holiday crafts begin.

I would be thankful.

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward

All my best,

Mary

Brown, L., Branston, M., Hamre Nietupski, S., Pumpian, I., Certo, N. & Gruenewald, L. (1979). A Strategy for Developing Chronological Age Appropriate and Functional Curricular Content For Severely Handicapped Adolescents and Young Adults. Journal of Special Education, 13(1), 81 – 90.

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56 Responses to “Kill the Turkeys! Life lessons for people with disabilities.”

  • Cecilia Slonkosky says:

    I agree with you! I have a sister with disabilities, and I wouldn’t want her to be doing childish activities such as that when she is older. I would like for her to do age appropriate activities. It was good of you to make some suggestions to the people who work with Aaron. People sometimes are just unaware. Hopefully they learn from your wise words. We must spread the word and be more vocal about this.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Unfortunately, this Thanksgiving (and Aaron is now 38) he once again brought home a hand-print Turkey he made in the Goodwill/Easter Seals program. It was on some sort of clay–AND WAS BROKEN IN PIECES. Since the paint was a bright color and perfectly painted, I think the only part of the project Aaron did was stick his hand in the clay. I was appalled. I really wonder what Aaron thought. I KNOW what I thought. “How could anyone in charge be this clueless?”
      All we can hope is that you and your generation of professionals will have better training. Best wishes always Cecelia. Mary

  • mary says:

    There is so much Aaron needs to learn. So many skills he is losing. I really don’t blame the good people who take care of him. They are not teachers and they are working hard and doing their best. It’s just very sad for me to watch. I can’t imagine what Aaron thinks.

  • Megan Heckmann says:

    I don’t think your age-appropriate rant is silly. I completely agree that people with disabilities need to be doing age-appropriate activities rather than activities that reflect their developmental age. It came as quite a shock to me that you witnessed adult day care facilities have Fisher Price toys in the rooms for the adults with disabilities to play with. As you said, these toys are for toddlers, and if you’re older than the age on the label, then it is not appropriate for you to be playing with. Doing activities that reflect their developmental age rather than their actual age will not allow people with disabilities to learn the things they need to learn for everyday life, and it does not show their true potential or abilities.

  • Sally Beiting says:

    Mary,

    I enjoyed reading this post. My uncle has autism and is older, like Aaron so I can sympathize with this post a little bit. I agree that things need to be age appropriate. You wouldn’t try to make a 3 year old solve a 1,000 piece puzzle. So you should assign things a 30 or 40 year old would want to do, not macaroni Santas. Things they are interested in , such as music sports or nature. I don’t think this was an endless rant. Thank you for giving me another perspective on Autism.

  • Kara Detty says:

    Your anger is entirely justified as Aaron should not keep repeating the same activities he did as a toddler but instead he should be able to advance himself. It’s horrible that more people aren’t on your side of the idea and to want him to interact in the same way. Hope is for the future, which is on the horizon. As a part of the future I am glad you have educated us on these concepts to instill hope and change.

    • mary says:

      You do give me hope Kara. It will be difficult, but we can make change happen and Aaron and a whole generation of people will have more dignity.

  • Kailey Longpre says:

    You had every reason to be upset about Aaron making the same hand-print turkey craft he made when he was 3 years old, at 25 years old. I think adults with disabilities should have age-appropriate activities at adult care services that challenge them to an extent. People who work in adult care centers should make sure they are treating their students like adults, not children!

    • mary says:

      Glad you understand Kailey. It is always a shock and so depressing. I know how hard it must be to try and find things for adults to do I really wish we could get a “functional community based curriculum” like Aaron had in school. But these good people are not trained teachers. And there is no mandate for adult services. So, I should be thankful they are kind to Aaron.

  • Abby Awad says:

    I don’t think you’re rant is unnecessary in the slightest. It does not require that much additional effort to create more age appropriate activities for Aaron and his friends at his day programming. Though it is a little different, when my Grandpa attended a day program when his mind was failing and my Grandmother needed a break, he had very little options as to what activities he could participate in and suffered because of it. I can only imagine that if Aaron was given the opportunity to participate in more age appropriate activities, he would thrive and find the projects more enjoyable.

    • Mary says:

      Abby, it is the same thing as your grandfather. And, I’ll bet they had some Fisher Price stuff at his place too. We really need some creative people who can think of age-appropriate and useful activities. Martha Stewart where are you?

  • Adrianne Lanyi says:

    I agree with you 100% with the activities/crafts that are way below Aaron’s age level. Although they aren’t trying to be, it comes off extremely offensive to Aaron and you. Just because Aaron has autism does not mean it defines him as a person. The point of the care centers should be helping adults with age appropriate activities instead of giving them childish activities that are pointless and redundant.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      I know how difficult it is to find things to do. That is why I like functional community based programming. I think it’s okay to make decorations if you are having a party–then the decorations become functional. Otherwise, the seasonal decorations are just too childish.

  • Abby Gerhardt says:

    I think that you are correct with your rant. They should be happy that you send in alternatives for Aaron, that shows you are truly invested in him, and you truly want to see your son succeed. I think that people who work in the adult day care centers should be making sure that they are not treating the students like children, mainly because they are not children, they are adults who need a little extra help.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Thanks Abby. They are hard to find but if you think “functional” and “community based” usually I can think of something that is age-appropriate.

  • Randall Haas says:

    I do agree that activities for everyone need to be age appropriate for everyone. This thought just goes along with STNA (State Tested Nursing Assistant) training that I went through and it was not directly geared to adults with disabilities but the part I am talking about was geared to adult with Alzheimer’s and we were told to treat them like adults because they are adults and to give them activities that they could do that were meant for adults. This was also the teaching for adults with disabilities, to give them activities that they could do and are age appropriate.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      That’s terrific. I didn’t know about the STNA, but I am thankful they are on board with age-appropriate. It really is so simple if you understand it. But some people just don’t seem able to “get” the paradigm shift–and often they are in charge of programs.

  • Andrea Middendorf says:

    I do agree that this isn’t age appropriate. It reminds me of how when I was younger, I hated reading. I hated it. I wouldn’t pick up a book unless it was for someone else to read. My teachers tried to give me books that fit my reading level, but they were so BORING. Then I found a book series that I actually liked, and I rose to the occasion and ate it up. Now I am an avid reader, but I wouldn’t be if I had stuck with those stupid boring books. I just remember my teacher telling me to put a book back because I couldn’t sound out the title.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      I hate stories like that. Teachers can be the light in a child’s life or crush it with a careless word. What series did you like, I’ll have to give it to my granddaughter. That’s the fun part of getting old. 🙂

  • Brandi Cox says:

    I totally agree with you,Dr.Ulrich. I mainly work with kids, but I’ve volunteered at centers that provide adult services and they’re awful! I feel the same way when I see little tike toys in the corners of room filled with forty year-old men and women. Schools need to provide constructive lessons for children so they can apply those skills in their adult life. Those skills include being able to read and count. An adult program should be fun! It should be a place where adults are free to make their own choices. Those choices should be from a selection of AGE-APPROPRIATE activities. This also means labeling those activities appropriately. For example, using the word “drawing” as opposed to “coloring” for an adult program. Instead of providing toys,independent or group reading time (with age appropriate options) and physical activities should be provided. One of the best adult programs I’ve seen allowed their participants to play Wii Sports(the video game)! It was a great time! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working and befriending adults with various disabilities, it’s that they’re most content when they feel respected by their peers. Giving them toys designed for toddlers is not only disrespectful, but ineffective and demeaning.

    • Mary says:

      Well said Brandi. So many people think, “well he has the IQ of a 4 year old, so we’ll get him toys for 4 year olds.” They don’t get the age-appropriate concept at all.

  • Can I just say your blogs are really insightful it things that everyday people like myself included do not even considered and it is sad. I see why you are upset Aaron should have something challenging him so he continue to learn not a turkey hand, but does it make him happy to do things like that? I love when in some of my college curriculum classes lets me color but it is related to the class and it is not a turkey hand. But I also see the down fall of the staff having no training and they are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have. It’s not fair and I like you have no answer I am not sure ways that it could be fixed, but I think its a good step that you are bringing stuff for Aaron to do that is useful to him.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Thanks again for you comment Carley. Sounds like you are really thinking about the pros and cons of each situation. Hopefully you will impact the future of people with disabilities so they will have more opportunities to have meaningful choices and activities.

  • Danika Johnston says:

    I am not sure high priced university degrees are the answer either. Getting a university education is much cheaper in Canada, than in the U.S., and there are very few people who obtain degrees in the disabilities field, compared to other areas of education. Unfortunately, people like myself who really loved working with people with disabilities, do not get paid any more that some dude off the street who comes in looking for a “job”. Perhaps we make a few cents an hour more, and so this field is not seen as a desirable way to support oneself, because the cost of education is practically the same whether you enter disabilities, nursing, or other courses, and this is usually a consideration for most students. As a person responsible for supervising staff, I saw many good people leave the field, because they could not live on minimum wage (or slightly above). It was really sad to see people utilizing food banks, thrift stores, denying their kids sporting actitivites, and so on because they had chosen a helping field that is still considered work that “anyone” can do. Personally, I am in favour of mandating some type of training (very practical) in order for folks to work in the disabilities field. Then maybe staff would consider the field as more of a career choice, rather than a “job”. Some of the “turkeybodies” would move on; because right now they have absolutely no interest in bettering themselves, so they can truly support people with disabilities in a meaningful way. If the government has to throw in some money for training dollars, and salaries, oh well. From my perspective, the people we support deserve the very best. The reason I have chosen to go on to a degree program, is that I think there are many people who are experts that have never spent a day as the life of a caregiver…they don’t get it. They offer impractical solutions, after we wait for months as workers and parents to get “professional opinions”–which often are not very helpful. I think to know the work, you have to do it. More later…

    • Mary says:

      Love your comments Danika. The pay just sucks and you’re right GOOD people have to leave in order to support their families. Giving direct care is hard work. The best people care and love our children and that should also count. If only I had a magic wand. I’d get rid of the administrators at the residential company and put them with real people. I’d give the direct care staff all of their wages and benefits. Then, see what they do.

  • danika johnston says:

    I will either be going to the University of Winnipeg, or the University of Calgary. Those seem to be the Canadian choices. Roughly one-third of my two year diploma class will graduate, which is ridiculous. The reason is that it’s all talk, talk, talk. For example we don’t take any classes or having discussions on challenging behaviours (mostly from the staff), learning cool and creative things that will really help us to teach people with disabilities. This is a very heavy two year program. I have seen people with degrees quit. The hardest thing that I have had to deal with by far, are systems put in place by people who think they know what is best for people with disabilities and their families..it is hearbreaking. I have always felt that we were lightyears behind the U.S. since so much of our educational material is American, and most of it is amazing..Lou Brown, Denise Bissonette, “Find Another Way”, The “Nine Intelligences” on and on..but I’ll write more later.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Hi Danika,

      Lou Brown is one of my all time heroes. He testified for Aaron when we went to due process. Glad to hear his message is still growing. I’ve written a couple posts about him. check out the ones on Functional Curriculum and Life Space Analysis.

      Larry Bissonette is busy with Wretches and Jabberers. I can’t wait to see the success of his movie.

      I don’t know a lot about Canada, but there are many great people there. I suggest you contact Jack Pearpoint at http://www.inclusion.com/inclusionnetwork.html
      for information about university programs and … well, most all things. He, Marsha Forest, and Judith Snow started the “Circle of Friends” concept from Frontier College in Canada. “Inclusion” also started in Canada.
      Talk to Jack. He will be an amazing resource.

  • I am honoured by your reply Mary…and I am going on to get a university degree. I truly believe we are all here for a reason. I have been honoured to have people like Aaron as my teacher..it is not what I have taught, but what I have learned that has been a true blessing. I found your blog because I am doing a paper on “day programs”. I feel that a wonderful connection from reading your stories. Thank you so much for bringing Aaron and your family into my life.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      I am honored that you found our stories helpful. Good luck to you Danika. We need strong professionals like yourself who care about adults. Everyone loves the babies, but it takes a special kind of person to see the beauty in adults.

      Were do you want to go to school? Maybe I can be of help.

  • Hi MarY:

    I just read your blog about Aaron, and as a person who has worked in the field for over 5 years, and went back to school and graduated with a diploma as a Community Services Worker, I cannot agree with you more. Government has not placed an onus on service providers to ensure that people with disabilities get educated, trained staff. It works for the government and it works for the agencies–the cost to the government for staffing is low–the agencies get to keep management and supervisors who have worked their way up through the ranks, without obtaining any education. Many of the students I went to college with were treated terribly by some of their practicum sites, because there seems to a pervasiveness in the “human services industry” that “Oh My God, they might actually make “us” go to school just to work with people who have disabilities”. The school I attended provided little support to the students to help get them through some very difficult practicums. The pay scale didn’t change even though I spent two years of my own time and money doing what I love to do–teach and work with people who have intellectual disabilities. I believe so strongly that people with disabilities can learn–but I am surrounded by people who would rather sit around planning mindless activities. It seems to be the status quo. The only way it is going to change is if parents and families demand that their “adult family members” deserve and are entitled to much more.

    Very sad thing is, that it does not work for people like Aaron to be subjected to deserving “less than” and being given the opportunity to learn some meaningful life skills. That’s what I am supposed to be doing. Instead I supervise people who have absolutely no interest in learning how to support people with disabilities. For every one person who goes out to get a certificate or diploma, there are at least another 50, who haven’t studied anything. They remind me constantly that they could get a job a gas station which would pay them more.

    The first turkey Aaron did as a three year old really made me smile. The second turkey is a reflection to me of all the “turkeyminds” out there “working” in the disabilities field.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      HI Danika, Glad you are here.

      I wish there were more people like you, especially in Aaron’s life. You described the situation very well. I love the phrase “turkeyminds” that made me laugh.

      Sign up in the box on the top left corner of the site and future posts will be sent to you. I’m hoping you will become a regular and comment often. You have a lot of first hand information you can add.

    • Gary Jordon says:

      Hi Danika I have a couple of questions. When you say degrees or diplomas are they the typical 2 years AA or AS thing with all the general ed stuff? If so can’t we start to find ways to teach some of these skills without all the unused and expensive hoopla? That might help at least some of the staff get some training.

      I found that even though I did this as a legally blind man that is frankly on the tiny side I was lucky to volunteer. I figured maybe I could use what I had experienced as a child growing up with multiple disabilities and seeing how hard it was to find genuine inclusion. I really wanted to make a difference. It makes me sick to read that most of the staff you supervise don’t want to improve their abilities and skills to help make these human beings lives meaningful is truly amazing.

      You are right that adults are alot less adorable then small children. Also it is easier to do things well in the beginning instead of trying to fix all the damage done up to that point. For me it was more like a healers sort of job with teaching being one of the tools to accomplish any miracles I could.

      Have a great day.

  • Lindsey Geer says:

    I don’t always agree with your posts, but this was dead on, way to go!

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Hi Lindsey,

      It’s okay to disagree–just tell me specifically what it is you are thinking. Start a discussion.

  • frannie polski says:

    Hello

    I just tripped on this site and I have to comment. I am a teacher of students with special needs and this something that I fight for. I live in ontario,Canada and we do not have community based functional curriculum. I just got rid of the last of Dora books out of the class. There is a great series of books that are age appropriate for teenagers but at a low level reading. The other resource that I use is a web based newspaper service (news 2 you) that allows me to talk to my students about current events. We have very few adult programs in Canada so my students are often home bound when they are finished here.

    Thank you for letting me have a say. Age appropriate is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. What about games the students play? I have students that come to me that have never been asked to play games so where do you start.

    Thank you for bring this important issue up one more time

    Frannie

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Hi Frannie, Welcome!

      You raise so many important points, I hope you will continue to comment and share your valuable experiences. Also, on the top left of the site is a “Join to get email updates” you might want to become one of the regulars here.

      Where to start: we have learned so much over the last 30 years and yet we are not using it. As you point out, we know a lot about what to do and not to do. The “News 2 You” is an example of a great resource. Tell us the name of the series of books you referred to that are age appropriate. Never enough of those kinds of resources.

      My heart just breaks that the people are sitting at home after so many years of dreams and hopes for a bright future. That was one of the reasons I wanted to start the Basecamp–so we could start sharing the few resources that are available.

      Also I’m curious how you did find this site?

      Keep poking around the existing articles and please come back. You can make an important contribution to the discussion because you seem to care so much. God Bless you and the people you care about.

    • Gary Jordon says:

      I just learned something. I had no idea that there was no adult day programs of any kind in Canada. I have always somehow had the impression that Canada did better on this score.

      I too would love to hear the name of the series of books that you use. I’ll be honest I kinda like Dora. She is using her skills on a daily basis, she is thankfully nonviolent, and frankly cute. Down here in the southwestern part of the US she is also one of the few hispanics that these individuals can enjoy.

      I am eager to learn what other choices are out there at least with Dora you are not going to need to worry about the kind of example she will set.

      One last thought. There may well be especially among the girls a preference for Dora and even other cartoon type characters. I’ll make a confession. I still enjoy watching “Santa and the Three Bears” during the Christmas season. Me and my mother did that every year even though we are both grown up and don’t have severe intellectual disabilities.

      Have a great day.

      • One of the tricky parts about “age-appropriate” is that adults who are valued can be age-inappropriate. But people who are on the fringe do not have that luxury.

        And as for watching the traditional Christmas show with your mom–go right ahead. Now, if you were to carry around a Christmas bear in public–that would be another story.
        Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Remarkable Parents and Advocates who Never Give Up

        • Gary Jordon says:

          Thanks Mary for the laugh. I’m trying real hard to see myself carrying any kind of around in public. Lovely imagery here.

          Your right though about the age-appropriate thing being tricky. It can be even worse then these guys. Before mom had to go into a nursing home about 6 years ago we didn’t watch much of what is considered adult tv. So most of the time when she was awake at least during the day she would rather watch the cartoon channel. She nor I for that matter didn’t get into soap operas, talk shows, very limited sports watching(that didn’t really fill the spot), news was thankfully limited before we had to get cable sometime around 2001.

          So as I find myself thinking about this important issue the question keeps popping up in my mind. What makes something adult and not childish?

          For me they can keep the fast hot rod cars, the extreme violence and the exploitative style of relating to everyone and everything. So what is left in this modern world? I kept asking myself that as I volunteered in the high school/adult class as well. I haven’t yet come up with an good answer that I’m satisfied with. So if anyone on this blog can start helping me answer this question I would very pleased to hear it.

          On a sadder note. Mother and me haven’t seen “Santa and the Three Bears” since before she went into the nursing home in the spring of 2004. I finally found it on youtube and it brought tears to my eyes. As mom doesn’t seem to even want to watch tv anymore.

          Well have a great day.

  • Tom Ulrich says:

    I agree with the age appropriateness. I did have a laugh looking at the “handmade” turkeys though. Regardless of the age of the person that put it together. “Handmade” turkeys always bring a smile to my face and make me laugh.

    A great analogy is looking at Socks.

    Everyone love baby socks. They are very cute and adorable. (Even if they are dirty)
    Adult socks are far from adorable.

    I believe my mom hangs my baby socks on the Christmas tree every year.

    Yes that’s right. My mom hangs a 30 year old dirty sock on our Christmas tree every year. Isn’t that adorable?

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Tommy, you always make me laugh and put things in perspective. And, yea… the socks are going to be in my post on St. Nick’s Day.

      ps. the sock isn’t dirty, just dingy:)

  • The key to Aaron being seen as a valued member of society had to do with the community based functional curriculum. I guess, one of my lessons from spending so much time thinking about this, is that I need to find some of my old stuff. Aaron did some amazing things. (But my pictures, et al. are packed up in the storage bin.) Just say a prayer this new program works out. It has potential.
    Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Thanksgiving Inclusion and Interdependence

  • Gary Jordon says:

    There is one more thing I can’t understand. I didn’t know there were items made that at least tried to bridge the paradox but you say that when you showed the staff at Aaron adult facility they didn’t look. I would have absolutely loved to have seen such products.

    Allison is right Mary it isn’t silly at all. I’m not sure to whom demeaning is in referance to but it is plainly heartbreaking to think that 40 years after the IDEA got started we have progressed so little.

    My heart goes out to both of you and to all those who must wait for their fellow human beings to see them for the sentient souls they are.

  • No, your rant isn’t silly. It *is* demeaning. And heartbreaking because a tiny change would make a huge difference. I tend to agree with Gary, it is the mindless drone factor.
    Alison Golden recently posted..William and Kate’s Royal Marriage Mystery

  • Gary Jordon says:

    Mary you beat me to the punch. I was watching Dora the explorer with my Crystal’s 3 year old (I’d write her name but not sure on spelling). That got me to thinking about how age appropriate or skill level appropriate is debated. I was thinking of writing a post on it but I had to go run some ereand related to setting up shop so I can manage her affairs until she gets well enough to do so herself. That is of if she ever gets back to being the mother I fondly remember.

    Believe it or not at the high school level where I volunteered with we had the wooden puzzles and the rest of the stuff you mentioned. Well I think we did. All the while I kept hearing the mantra “age appropriate”. Now I know the Antelope Valley is backwards but I didn’t think we were this backwards.

    Here is my point from my perspective at the time. How does one give “age appropriate” activities when there skill level is at a much lower level? I also didn’t see anything in the school supply stores that would even work.

    But this problem doesn’t just exist in the adult day care and school venues. I have noticed that for someone like your son Aaron or any of the people I worked with there is nothing for them in the larger community. Nothing that they can relate to that won’t spook parents of small children. I guess the usual answer is to have them stay in hiding so as not to ruffle the feathers of those who think they know everything. I plain didn’t even know they made such items. I would have loved to see such things.

    On the issue of staff I’m not sure I’m for the full blown teacher credentialing biz. Largely because I’m not even sure it really works for schools. What I would of course like to see is more high priced and questionable(value/$$$)university degrees but maybe someone like yourself or myself who can show them in a mentor like fashion what is possible and show by example. This may have to be a very small start until enough people who can spread the craft.

    I also suspect that the mindless drone syndrome is also a factor. Not only is the pay low but I’m sure like with their higher priced credentialed teachers the cookie cutter approach to everything is valued over a creative approach where is person is truly a unique sentient being.

    I’ll stop ranting myself. Oh I wonder if I could guest post on your blog.

    I hope you find a solution to this so that many being in disabled bodies can have the dignity of people believing that their is value and worth in how they have incarnated into this world.

    Have a great day.

    • Gary you raised many great issues. The thing is, we have 35 years of curriculum lessons that work. So there are alternatives.
      Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Thanksgiving Inclusion and Interdependence

    • Gary writes:
      “What I would of course like to see is more high priced and questionable(value/$$$)university degrees”

      Why on Earth would you like to see those?

      • Mary E. Ulrich says:

        I think Gary meant “wouldn’t.” No one wants to waste time when there is so much work to be done.

        BTW: Any chance you are related to Jack Gladstone, the songwriter, from the Blackfeet tribe?

      • Gary Jordon says:

        Sorry Kate Mary is right I meant that I don’t like this route the high prices and the waste of time. As Danika pointed don’t know anything about the real world of disability they , most of them, have never been a caregiver of any kind. That means that it’s all book learning and no hands on experience. I would add that there are even fewer experts or caregivers who have lived with the social and emotional consequences of being severely disabled. You don’t have to be intellectually challenge to be severely disabled.

        Also I tended to veiw my few years not as a teacher aide but as someone looking for those who could be healed. By this I don’t mean cured of the diseases and conditions that created their impairments. I mena healed in the sense of the negative meaning that most people around them have for their condition(s). Healing also means using teaching to help them overcome and sidestep as much as possible the results of their afflictions.

        Thanks for noticeing my typo.

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