Tuesday, April 03, 2007

coffee and clear thinking

I was flipping through a catalog called Beyond Play this morning. Their self-description: Early Intervention Products For Young Children with Special Needs.
Needs? Such as love, a stable home, privacy, freedom? Now I hope that I don't come across as callous - I am aware that some children have true disabilities and learning delay both mental and physical. My question is do they need contrived pieces of plastic, foam rubber and fabric, or any of the eleven college degreed specialists who apparently consulted in the development and testing of these early intervention products. A few examples...

Tubmobiles - These soft, safe cocoons are perfect for toddlers to 3 year olds. Surrounded by 3.5" thick, cushioned sides, children riding in the Tubmobile will have a fun vestibular experience.
VESTIBULAR EXPERIENCE? Parents are the original 'soft, safe cocoon'! How about mom or dad holds their child close while dancing to fun music? Wouldn't that do the same thing? Babies who ride in a sling get the same 'experience' plus all the love and warmth a tubmobile can't provide, not even for $165.
Deep Pressure Tops and Vests- These Tops and Shorts are designed to closely hug the child's body. They provide proprioceptive deep pressure feedback and stability over the entire trunk when worn together, or over the upper or lower body when worn separately.
Now, I don't know much about proprioceptive feedback, I'm not a college educated expert.

I am a mom.

And I know, and lots of other moms know, that hugs heal all sorts of things, and cost a lot less than $90.

Think of a child's world, full of things to learn from, real everyday things. But adults sterilize their world - strip it of all resemblance to real everyday life, and (as prescribed by specialists and experts) add things back in as listed in shiny colorful catalogs with fancy words and pictures of happy disabled children. Who really benefits from this? (I don't think I need to answer that question. If I have done my job in conveying my point here, the answer is obvious.)
When I started this post, I wasn't sure where it would go... I thought I would end with a phrase I saw in another catalog I was flipping through this morning: "our products are pretested by pros... and parents!" Excuse me? Professional what? Who can be called a professional if not a parent?
But that leads me, and you too, here...
I challenge you to pick up a book by John Taylor Gatto called Dumbing Us Down. "In his speech, “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher,” Gatto describes the seven lessons that are taught in all public schools by all teachers in America, whether they know it or not." (excerpt from his website. To read about all seven lessons, click the link and scroll down.)
Another excerpt that I find particularly relevant to the experts vs. parents argument, also taken from that website:
"The fifth lesson I teach is intellectual dependency….It is the most important lesson, that we must wait for other people better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives….[Only], the teacher can determine what my kids must study, or rather, only the people who pay me can make those decisions, which I then enforce. If I’m told that evolution is a fact instead of a theory, I transmit that as ordered, punishing deviants who resist what I have been told to tell them to think….Successful children do the thinking I assign them with a minimum of resistance and a decent show of enthusiasm….Bad kids fight this, of course, even though they lack the concepts to know what they are fighting, struggling to make decisions for themselves about what they will learn and when they will learn it…"

He goes on to explain in further detail in that chapter of his book. Still wonder where our country's expert-trusting, specialists-relying, over-dependent mentality comes from?
Just some things to think about. I enjoyed my cup of coffee this morning, how about you?

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