Posts Tagged ‘Lou Brown’
To celebrate the new school year here are some of my favorite posts:
Article 1: Why Do We Go to School?
Article 2: Back to School| A New Year of Learning
Article 3: Back to School| What is Inclusion?
When my son Aaron was in school, shopping was part of his curriculum. From the time he was ten years old he went to the bank and grocery one day a week as part of his special education school program.
This was best practice and came from the work of Drs. Lou Brown, Alison Ford, Sharon Freagon and many others. The idea of a functional curriculum for people with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities is:
* it takes longer to learn skills, so let’s make sure we teach important skills and not waste their time on dumb stuff
* it takes lots of practice, so let’s give the student lots of opportunities and trials
* use it or lose it, so let’s make sure the skill is something the student will need their whole life
* transition from school to adult life will be smoother
* we only teach skills that if the person didn’t do it, someone else would have to do it for them
* the ability to purchase items would give the person more dignity, self-esteem, self-determination skills and choices in their life
The way it worked was each week, Mom sent in a check for $10.00 and a shopping list. The class went to the same grocery store (because each store is different). Each student cashed their check at the bank and then bought items from the list to take home.
In addition, students also planned a lunch to be made in the classroom the following day. Each would purchase a couple items for that group lunch. These items were purchased with the classroom credit card.
This functional curriculum was based on the philosophy that Aaron would go to the grocery the rest of his life. Before the school year started the IEP team decided this was a high priority skill because he would need to buy food and other items when he was an adult. If he didn’t learn to purchase these items, someone else would have to buy them for him. If Aaron could purchase the items he would have more choices and say in his life and therefore a better quality of life. (Who wants someone else deciding you can only have Cheerios for breakfast all your life.)
Related Service Staff
The curriculum was designed by the IEP team including specialists and the parents. After all, who would be taking the student to the grocery on the weekends, summer, and after school. And who knew what the student liked better than their parents?
I was in the school a lot and went on many of the community training trips with Aaron and his class.
It takes a Village
The speech and language therapist helped Aaron build picture sequences of “shopping at Krogers,” check-off lists with pictures for grocery lists, and learn to interact with the cashier “Thank You” and give a High 5 to the bagger….
The occupational therapist helped Aaron figure out which coin purse/wallet worked best, learn to pay with the next highest bill, learn how to take the money out of his wallet (hold wallet in left hand and take out bills with right) and after many failures of getting the change back in the wallet–it was decided Aaron should just put the change in his pocket….
The physical therapist helped Aaron figure out how to climb up and down the steps on the bus (hold on the rail with his right hand and count the steps), how to maneuver the parking lot (and yes we had an IEP goal that said with 50% accuracy), how to enter the right door–even if there are two “in” doors,
how to reach the items on the bottom shelves (hold on to the grocery cart with his left hand and reach with his right)….
Depending on the therapists schedules, they might only be involved in periodic assessments, or they could go with the class every week. This was an excellent way for the therapist got to really see Aaron in this environment and practice REAL life skills.
The teacher and assistant teachers went every week with the 6-8 students in the multi-handicapped class. She/he helped Aaron match his pictures to the actual items in the store, find his favorite items and put them in the cart, learning appropriate social skills….
After High School
Unfortunately now that Aaron is out of school, he has lost most of those skills because adult service staff refuse to take him to the store or don’t have the knowledge or support they need. Here is a story about Aaron’s home (click here). It is not the fault of the staff. Some of them are very loving and do a great job.
So I take him every weekend when he is home with us. Here is a story of a recent shopping trip (click here).
Aaron and I are a team and we have worked out our own system. We only shop for about 10 items and Aaron puts the items in the cart. Sometimes Aaron will grab something off the shelf and if it is anywhere close to something he might want, I’ll let him buy it. ie. if it is a bag of cookies or cereal –he can keep it. If it is a box of denture tablets probably I’ll tell him what it is and put it back.
Choices: Quality of Life and “If Only”
If I had the opportunity to change things in Aaron’s life, it would be that adult services used a functional curriculum and adult residential services gave Aaron and others with autism and severe disabilities the opportunities to practice their skills. There is no question Aaron would not currently be LOSING these skills. There is no question these skills would enhance Aaron’s self-esteem and quality of life.
The reason I could insist on these skills being taught and used when Aaron was school age was because of the federal mandate in IDEA. The Individual with Disabilities Education Act said that parents were part of the IEP team and the parents had due process if they disagreed with the school personel. There is no such mandate for Adult Services, no due process for parents and/or guardians. Plus, in Adult Services the staff does not have to be trained or have any teaching license.
As my friend Deb used to say, “When I am made Queen of the Universe” I will declare it. Until then, I’ll take Aaron every weekend and give him as many functional experiences I can.
And of course, I’ll dream of the day I am Queen of the Universe. *smile*
What ifs? Comments?
Any stories about your child’s school experiences preparing them for the future? Any luck with using those skills in their adult life?
Anyone else want to be “Queen of the Universe”?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
Anyone can be a Father, but only someone special can be a Dad. (anon.)
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” (Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961.)
What is a Father’s “unconditional love”?
Many people have trouble explaining “unconditional love” and “fathers.”
I remember one Hallmark commercial where an older dad said he really only understood a father’s love when he saw his son holding his new baby–his grandchild. We were fortunate to see our son, Tommy with his new daughter. That is one amazing moment and made our hearts burst with love and pride.
But when I think of my husband Tom, and the harder love, the real unconditional love, it is when he is with Aaron, our oldest son who has the label of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Love is in the details, not the traditional big events like a new grandchild. It is in the demanding-ordinary-daily-love Tom pours into making Aaron’s life “normal” and “special” at the same time. Doing things that have to be done, when you would rather do other things.
Here is today’s example:
Dad picked up Aaron at his house at 8:30 AM today. The caregivers are going to a family reunion, so we want to give them some additional time off. After checking on his meds, asking about his toileting, Dad talked to the caregivers about our recent visit to Aaron’s medical doctor. Tom tells the staff, “Yes, you have to get the prescription filled.” And “Yes, this is now Saturday and we went to the doctor on Monday. What’s the problem?”
Tom then brings Aaron home to our house, takes him to the bathroom, cuts his fingernails, throws in some laundry (I’m still recovering from my surgery) and after an hour takes Aaron to get a haircut, go to the grocery and treat Aaron to a hamburger. Mom gets to stay home and hang out on the computer.
Later today we plan on taking Aaron swimming, and then seeing Tommy and his family to celebrate Father’s Day. We’ll take Aaron back to his house about 8:30 pm.
Dad is hoping to catch some of the US Open Golf Tournament on TV, but he fits that in between Aaron’s care.
Sure, as we celebrate Father’s Day, we’ll give Dad a couple little presents. I’m sure our granddaughter will give him a big hug and card too. But the “Bagel Guillotine” slicer, some peanuts for the ballgame and a new golf shirt will never be enough thanks for all the love and devotion Dad gives to his sons–every day.
Happy Father’s Day Dad! We love you unconditionally too.
Amplify the positive outliers
This week Seth Godin wrote an interesting post about creating change. He suggests that the easiest way is to “Amplify the positive outliers.” In other words, we don’t waste our time “extinguishing bad behaviors” and instead find “positive deviants,” positive examples of what we are trying to do and then “give them a platform, a microphone and public praise.” Seth says by focusing on our success stories and celebrating our superstars we will change our culture and strengthen our tribe.
In our Climbing Every Mountain community and other tribes of “inclusion” and “normalization,” we face daily examples of people promoting and building segregated schools for children with autism, segregated adult day (wasting) programs, even a new segregated “handicap only” baseball field. These are downright depressing and steal our energy and spirit.
So let’s begin thinking of positive examples and naming our “positive deviants.” In fact, most of the advocates and parents I know would like to be called a “positive deviant”—Yep, fits our label system just fine? Maybe we should be pushing the psychologists to adding that to the DSM, might make better reading than saying parents are still stuck in the grief cycle, eh?
Inspirational Video of people who changed the world
Enjoy this one minute of thinking about “The Crazy Ones” who helped change the world. If I was making a video, I would start with the above picture of my husband Tom and Aaron, the kid with all the labels–including “son.”
Some of the other Superstars in our life who would be in my video are: Annie Bauer, Michael Valdini, Dennis Burger, Colleen Wieck, Lou Brown, Anne Donnellan, Ed Roberts, Bob Perske, Tommy and Ana Ulrich, Mary Ann Roncker, Debbie Wetzel, Patty McMahon, Madeline Will, Patty McGill Smith, Patti Hackett, Leanne Bowling, Alison Ford and many others.
Join in the Fun
This post is dedicated to all the Superstar Dads out there who are changing the world.
In the comments, tell us: If you made a video of your “positive deviants” who would be your superstars? Not just dads, but parents, teachers, professionals, self-advocates who you think have changed our world? Who are the people who have moved us from segregation and given us the dream of an inclusive life with our families and terrific dads?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
Hand Therapy| Homework with a Bang
Life Long Learning| like it or not.
Six weeks ago I fell and broke my wrist. Bad news is that it hurt like #$@! The good news is it’s healing well and gave me the opportunity to learn more about therapy. Hey, I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, right?
Aaron, my son with the label of autism, started physical, occupational and speech therapy when he was a baby. In fact, therapy was one of the things we won in our due process case with the school district. So, I’ve had years of observing therapists in action. We saw Aaron go through paradigm shifts in philosophies and approaches from sensory integration, NDT (neurodevelopmental), isolated medical model therapy, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary…and others I can’t even remember.
My broken wrist was my first hand *laugh* opportunity to actually be the patient. I am now officially “disabled” I have crossed into the “yet”.
Of course there are many differences between Aaron and my experience:
*Mine is for a short time.
*I can tell the therapist when it hurts.
*I can ask questions.
*I can understand what the therapist is trying to do.
*I can look for ways to practice the exercises.
Because of my injury, I am going to a physical therapist who specializes in Hand Therapy. Hey, this is the day of specialization. I wonder if there is a physical therapist who specializes in “thumb” therapy? Probably is.
My therapist is great. What is really interesting is for the first time I finally understand how all those stairs-to-nowhere and giant pegboards ended up in special education.
In the 70s, when children like Aaron were granted the right to education (PL. 94-142) no one knew what curriculum to use for people with severe disabilities. It made perfect sense to start with the medical model and the exercises used in the therapy rooms. In fact, in the early days, many people thought education would be the cure.
As many of you know, Lou Brown from the University of Madison, WI is one of my heroes. Not only is he an amazing person and teacher, but his innovative ideas helped win Aaron’s lawsuit, and introduce a “functional curriculum” which impacted all Greater Cincinnati.
If the person doesn’t do it, will someone else have to do it?”
What seems like a straightforward definition is often confusing to people. For instance. When I went home and substituted a hammer was that functional learning?
If you answered “NO” you are correct.
When a hammer is just a substitute for a one pound weight, it is not a “functional skill.” (BTW I felt ridiculous watching TV and pumping the hammer with claw.)
In a medical model or scientific method experiement, you always isolate and reduce the activity to one element. Exercises are specific to one area, so they can be more easily measured.
Did this exercise strengthen the wrist?
Can the patient lift one pound?
How many degrees can the patient turn their wrist?
After a week of practicing lifting one pound weights, could the patient now lift a two pound weight?
The answer would be clean, it would be easy to chart.
Now, if I used the exercise of lifting the hammer (one pound) to hit a nail, or build a cabinet then it would be a functional exercise. But it no longer requires just one skill. It would be more difficult to chart.
The hammer is a tool. The one pound weight is a good therapeutic exercise for my wrist, but until I give the hammer a purpose, there is no “functional skill.”
The idea of “functional skills” is that a person would practice the exercise many times, as opposed to just a couple times a week in therapy.
For years Aaron and others climbed the stairs-to-nowhere and were swung in nets to build therapy skills.
With a “functional curriculum” Aaron learned to climb the steps in the hallway to go to lunch. He used a swing on the playground at recess. He would practice these skills several times a day. They were real, not artifical exercises done in isolation.
Here is the test:
Goal is to strengthen wrist by turning an object.
Which picture shows a “functional” task?
Does that help explain it?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
Of course, the peppermill is the correct answer. Can you think of other “functional” activities? Did this help explain this concept.
Test Questions | Segregation or Inclusion?
Friends and family members send me newspaper stories about people with disabilities. Some stories make me shout with joy and others make me want to cry and give up. Often my friends can’t figure out which ones are which.
For those of you who have been following my blog, think of this as the end of semester test–one of those little Reader’s Digest sort of quizzes.
Below are three stories followed by three sets of multiple choice questions? What do you think of these stories? Please respond in the comments.
1. It’s always sunny in Life Town: (click here) The mocked-up village square allows children with disabilities to learn the skills they need in daily life. (Sunday, April 3, 2011 By Jason Shough THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH)
a. This story about inclusion makes me shout for joy.
b. This story about segregation makes me want to cry and give up.
c. I’m not sure.
2. A prom: An enchanted evening for students with intellectual disabilities (click here) A Pennsylvania high school held a prom Thursday night for students with intellectual disabilities. The event included many elements of the traditional high-school event, including dinner, dancing, pictures and entertainment. “Many of them will not attend another prom because of some of the limitations they have,” teacher Amanda Murray said. “But they deserve it. They never have an opportunity to be together without tons of rules outside a school situation.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
a. This story about inclusion makes me shout for joy.
b. This story about segregation makes me want to cry and give up.
c. I’m not sure.
3. Story Three: see the picture, Aaron and Friends, at the top of the page.
Aaron, my son with the label of autism, is at a Spring Gala dinner and dance with his neighbors.
Susan and her husband, Charles, live next door to Aaron. They belong to a church at the edge of the neighborhood.
Susan invited Aaron and Jack (Aaron’s housemate) to join her and her husband for the church spring gala. They picked him up at the house and Susan introduced Aaron to the Minister and her friends, helped him get his dinner, danced with him, took pictures, and brought him home.
Aaron’s staff person was there to help if needed, but Susan and Charles did everything they could to make sure Aaron and Jack had a terrific night.
They told me later, they really enjoyed being with the guys and thought everyone had a great time. Susan was surprised Aaron enjoyed the band and watching all the people. She hopes to take them again next year.
a. This story of inclusion makes me shout for joy.
b. This story of segregation makes me want to cry and give up.
c. I’m not sure.
Okay, now respond in the comments. No peeking at my response:) Remember your response is based on your paradigm and not mine, diversity is allowed. This isn’t a test where you have to please the teacher. This is a discussion of important issues.
Check out my previous article: Teachers| Segregation or Inclusion
Consider the core question: Does each of these activities lead toward the inclusion or segregation of people with disabilities?
For a definition of inclusion check out the article: What is Inclusion? plus, pictures of Aaron and Tommy at graduation.
Check out Norm Kunc: What’s your Credo of Support? Does this activity build authentic self-esteem and skills, or does it support the charity model?
Answer to Question 1: Mock Town by Barb McKenzie
Here is a response to the first article about the mock town from Barb McKenzie, a parent leader:
After seeing the title and reading the article below from today’s Columbus Dispatch newspaper I wondered, “Can benevolence get in the way of equality and ordinary opportunities?”
A generous person wants to help. We are taught to help others; it feels good to help others. But what perceptions might that ‘helper’ and ‘helpee’ relationship procreate? Is the ‘helper’ some how better than the ‘helpee’? Does the ‘helpee’ always need to be helped, never given the opportunity to share his or her gifts and enjoy the good feelings we get from our generosity? Do we believe that the ‘helpee’ has anything to share?
Why, especially when it comes to children or adults with disabilities, do we feel we must create special, pretend places to practice in and learn the skills to interact in society in the “real” world? Why can’t we try and figure out how to provide genuine, authentic, ordinary opportunities for all IN the “real” world? If natural supports or additional assistance are needed for any of us to be participating members of our neighborhood community, can’t we work together to figure out how to do that? Don’t we all learn better with and from each other in the real world, in the real school, in our real community?
Do our good intentions sometimes get in the way?
Mary’s Answer: Question 1
I agree with Barb. “Life Town” can never be a mock town. This artifical town reminds me of “safety town” for preschoolers and kindergartners to learn how to drive their bikes. Or the little pretend kitchens in kindergarten rooms. Or, Lou Brown’s famous cardboard bus that some special education teachers made for their classes in the ’70s.
There are some people who think that because a person’s IQ score says they function at a 6 year old level, doing pretend kindergarten type experiences makes sense. What the research shows people with disabilities have trouble generalizing to other environments, and because this was a one-time experience (not really a teaching experience with multiple trials and practice), and because the mock town was just that–mock.
In my mind, this whole experience does not promote inclusion in the community, instead it promotes segregation because it assumes the students need a protective environment and a “get ready” for the real world attitude. The twenty volunteers and the time, money could have been much better spent to practice “community” skills in the real community–they are high school students, they don’t need to be in a pretend environment. I’m embarrassed these teachers didn’t know any better. They should know more about authentic learning and functional curriculum.
Here is a new resource from a member of TASH if anyone is looking for best practice for people with severe disabilities.
“Systematic Instruction of Functional Skills for Students and Adults with Disabilities by Dr. Keith Storey .” This is a practical “how to” text for teachers and other service providers. The format, readability, and detailed description of instructional methodology make it a resource for instructors responsible for improving the skills of learners with disabilities.
Answer to Test Question 2: Dr. Cheryl Jorgenson
Here is a response from Dr. Cheryl Jorgenson from the University of New Hampshire:
This kind of segregation of students with disabilities should be part of our long-past history, not featured in a national news brief for educators in special education. The statement quoted by the teacher (Ms. Murray) that the students have limitations that “prevent” them from attending the regular prom is beyond the pale. Can CEC seriously be promoting or even acknowledging this practice? IDEA states that students with disabilities have the right to participate in extracurricular activities alongside their peers without disabilities.
I believe that CEC owes an apology to all students with intellectual disabilities and should make a commitment to publishing stories that promote the full membership and participation of all students with disabilities in school and community life.
Mary’s Answer: Question 2, Special Prom
I agree with Cheryl. In fact, Aaron and his friend Jenni went to his High School prom twice (with another couple who supported them). He thought it was great, though he said the black patent leather shoes hurt, the music was too loud and the tux had funny buttons.
Mary’s Answer to Question 3: Aaron at Spring Fling.
Going to the Spring Fling with the neighbors is exactly the kind of experience that builds inclusion. Let’s look at the definition of normalization and inclusion:
Is it an age-appropriate activity? YES
Will this be an activity the person would enjoy? YES
Does it take place in the real community? YES
Is there “natural proportion”? Are no more than 10% of the participants people with disabilities? YES
Will it be status-enhancing? Good for the person’s self-esteem? YES
Does the person with disabilities have the support they need? YES
Does the person with disabilities have the opportunity to blend into the normal environment and be like everyone else? YES
Is this an opportunity to meet new neighbors and establish new relationships? YES
Is there the chance of this happening again? YES
Many people think that because I do not like the “charity model” I am not Christian, or against churches or religion. In my mind, Susan, Charles and the other members of this church were practicing the Christian spirit and the best of religion.
I hope this make sense. There are many people who just cannot understand the differences between inclusion and segregation. To Aaron and our family, the differences make all the difference.
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward:
“When we stop to lift one another up on the climb, we all reach a higher place.” Mimi Meredith
All my best,
Comments: What do you think?
Do these kinds of stories inspire you or drive you to distraction? What would you say to good, caring people who want to create segregated events? Would you participate? Is this better than just sitting in the classroom? What does inclusive or segregated events teach the community about people with disabilities?