Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Time to Learn

Script for "The Time to Learn" video:
The question I'd like to explore today is, "When is the best time for a person to learn?" The only answer I feel is appropriate is "Between the time their birth and the time of thier death." Any other answer will suggest inappropriate decisions by individuals, about themselves and others, and such veiws lead our society down a very destructive path.

It first needs to be understood that if a person in thier youth, in thier advanced years, or even throughout thier whole lives, does have what some may consider a learning impairment, the value of who they are as people must be recognised for a society to maintain its humanity. If someone needs support to learn, society must veiw this as a priority.

While it is a problem that we often dont show the respect that we should show toward those who aren't considered learners, we also place standards on how fast someone learns, the way that they learn, and what they are compelled to learn. The reasons behind why we choose these standards and what they say about who we are as people dont reflect well on who we are at all.

In the case of an autistic person, the labels of retardation or pervasive developmental disorder are not appropriate or even practical.

Of course I dont see what good the label of retarded has ever done anyone. Negative stereotypes, bullying, discarded, disempowered, excluded, aborted, abused, and even murdered is just the beginning of what this label and this veiw of people has brought us. No person is retaded! This label has no value.

If anything is retarded its a society that refuses to admit that it was a mistake to label people in this way in the first place.

When describing a person's developement, the idea that it is pervasive is unnecessary at any stage of developement as well as being totally subjective. All jugements about developement usually imply unreasonable standards of the speed and the way a person developes.

And disorder....The only thing disorderly in our universe are the pathological decisions that people make when they hurt other people.

As more is understood about different neurologies, those of us who didn't have the advantages of our teachers understanding of this when we were growing up, want the opportunity to utilize teachers understanding of it as adults. This gives us a chance to contribute more. We need this and our socity needs us to have it.

Children must be provided with support beyond some arbortrary age limit such as 18 or 21. Senior adults dont stop learning or contributing when they are age 65. They are among our most valuable resources.

And finally, we need to take our focus off of what makes people autistic and how to change the autistic characteristics that may be misunderstood, uncomfortable, or even just inconveinient for others.

We need to provide autistics with the opportunity to learn. To do that we need to listen and be observant of who they are.

Each autistic has similarities that can teach us more about autism and more about who we are as the collective human race.

Our dilligence will help us understand how each autistic learns best and what they are most interested in. Remembering that the speed at which each individual learns is dependant on many factors and patience will make learning faster and better.

Society must learn that people are our most valuable resource and our best investment.


At 10:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

First You should only "Before the time of thier death." :-) or do You think ther is no learnig before birt?
I think it's not negativ if the people lable ther kids as ADD, PDD or waht ever. The question is, if the people use the description to understand and help the labeled child/person better, or if they use it to discriminate them. In the first case the label will help the person to life happy in the society.
And even if people don't develop exactly the same way, there are times for different things, where the brain is best in lerning. If You know the difficultis of Your child at a eraly point, You can use this knowledge, for helping to using the times, where the brain lerns the things easyst...
So I think You don't shold be against the labels, if they describe something not otherwise descripted, and fight for the acceptance of labeled people in scool an society...

At 2:29 PM , Blogger Ed said...

I agree. It's the ways that people use labels thats the problem.
I was really meaning to speak about how labels are being used that are problematic. Some labels like retaded is one I've seen cause alot of damage.
But again you're right. Acceptance that would acompany any label is what is needed and what needs to be focused on.
You're point is well taken.

At 2:41 PM , Blogger Ed said...

And yeah, I've heard of learning before birth. I believe in that. So, it should be just, "Before their death." :-)

At 8:16 AM , Blogger abfh said...

I agree, we need to get rid of the "retarded" label. It just causes people to be treated as worthless and does not help anyone to get better services.

Long ago, the word "retarded" just meant slower than average in developing skills. It did not imply that a person could never learn. Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison were described as having retarded development because they were slow to speak, but they were not written off because of it, as many children are today.


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