How can we celebrate neurodiversity at home and in the classrooms? Tune in to today's episode to hear Dr. Lisa Dieker discuss the article "I Didn't Know People With Disabilities Could Grow Up to Be Adults": Disability History, Curriculum, and Identity in Special Education" by Carlyn O. Mueller.
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Link to Article:
Lisa Dieker 00:02
Welcome to Practical Access I'm Lisa Dieker and I'm heading up this podcast when my friend Becky does some fun things with those twins before they go off to college. So I have picked a topic to talk about today with you that I think kind of resonates with all of us kind of going with our theme this summer of an article. So a recent article just came out in Teacher Education and Special Education Volume 44 2021 by Carolyn Mueller called I didn't Know People with Disabilities Could Grow up to be Adults: Disability History Curriculum and Identity in Special Education. And I know I think we've mentioned before, in our podcasts the movie Crip Camp on Netflix. But I love that this article opened with Crip Camp and with interviews with people with disabilities, talking about identity. And I think it's a great theme kind of as you're either a parent or a teacher if you're a teacher getting ready to kick off the fall. What is your philosophy about celebrating the identity of the neurodiversity of your classroom? How do you talk about that in your classroom? Whether you're a gen ED or a special ED teacher and, more importantly, how do we help our kids talk about that do we look at a deficit model or do we look at more of a strength based model of what someone can do? And I know as teachers, we always think about that and as parents always think about our kid's strengths, but sometimes we confuse those two. And I think this author did a great job and reminding us that we all need to celebrate diversity, no matter what that diversity might be. But I think for disabilities, the history would say we're still not there yet, I know we've talked about disabilities as a social justice movement, we've talked about you know women's rights, diversity rights, gender rights and I think disability rights have come along, but I think it's still a little bit more of empathy and pity instead of what we really hope, and I know I can speak for Becky on this topic that we really can focus on people with disabilities, having that opportunity to see them as a strength. And I think one of the things that stood out the most in this article is when she asked people and she cited some past disability work about whether people would not want to have their disability if they could start over again, and most of them said, I want to be, who I am. And again as a parent of a young man with Tourette's Syndrome I don't think I would want Josh to be different. Yes, I would prefer not to have some of those struggles, but I think those struggles has made him who he is. So parents, since I've got my channeling my inner Becky I'm going to go with the practical quick tip for parents and then I'll do the same for teachers, as we kick up the fall. So for parents talk about disability, not to ad nauseum just like you don't want to talk about oh your hair is getting longer your voice is getting deeper. I think it has to be just in the general part of the discussion of who somebody is. And when you think it's getting in the way I think it's fine to talk about that, but I think we should also make sure we're talking about how to celebrate it. You know, one of our things that our families We often wonder if josh was a great gymnast because he has Tourette's. We know people Tourettes can move their muscles without thinking, maybe that's been a gift in his life, and so we really didn't look from the broken part but we looked at the strengths. The learning disabilities, many people with learning disabilities see life differently and are very creative and are very successful. So again, not always saying remember your LD, remember your're this, remember that, the parents really talk as much as you can about your kid strengths yeah you know that might really hard for you to spell, but do you realize that's like the best story I've ever heard or, wow, I know, reading is hard for you, but you know what I really find math is easy for you so let's talk about what you're good at, and how maybe we can write about things you enjoy in math or in building legos. So that strength-based mindset is what we talked about a lot. But I think it goes back to if our kids are going to grow up, they have to come up with the identity of what they're good at, and what they struggle with and understanding those struggles and you may or may not know, but my brother and I both are first-gen college students, we have some pretty strong parents that just have a high school diploma we're both very successful and feel very blessed by that, but we think it's because our parents really pointed out our strengths, maybe more than we even had strengths, I should put my brother out of podcast with me and ask him. But you know I don't remember being told what was wrong I most often remember my parents tell me what was right. And so that's my quick tip for parents. For teachers, I think we start the school year not talking about IEP's and labels but using kids' names. And then, when you're using kids names, you know, one of the things that Becky and I both have had the privilege of doing is graduating several Ph.D. students with disabilities. And we don't call them our "blank" student, our learning disabled student, or our deaf student, we actually use their names and I think, starting with a kid's name gives them the identity of a human and the disability, a second. We don't usually talk about that's my boy or my girl or my short my fat or my tall, my blonde or my blue-eyed or my brown-eyed so labels gone and teach your kids, with parents support, how to talk about their disabilities and advocate for their needs. And I know this isn't anything new, for you but when they grow up, they have to know when to share and when not to share. I think that's what I've been most impressed with by my own son and the many people with disabilities I've had as college students in my life is they seem to have a radar of knowing themselves so well to say this person has the right to know that I need this, but this person it's not really necessary, so you don't need to come up and every time say I'm Lisa and I have a learning disability. Instead, when it's appropriate to share and so teachers help kids be ready to advocate for their needs, but not use that as a crutch for a discussion. And so, the last thing I'll just mention here as a quick tip for my teacher friends is think about an audio recording, a YouTube video, or having kids at any age do a little intro to their IEP meeting. Hi, my name is Lisa and I struggle with this, but I'm really good at this I hope you'll find some great strategies to help me with my area of struggle. I don't think kids are always ready to attend their IEP meetings, but I think their voice should be where we start and what we listen to you first. So I thank this author for this article and reminding us through history that many people have not had a voice, it is a new era of having a voice if you've had the privilege of watching the Olympics this week there have been so many disability commercials, so many options to say we're there, but are we there getting our kids ready to talk and be the next generation of kids who grow up. Thanks for listening, if you have any questions for us, please send them to our Facebook page or you can tweet us @accesspractical.