Here’s the message you and I might want to send:
Guess what professionals? I live with my child every day – I know very well what his limitations are. Let’s get over that and talk about how we are going to build on his strengths!
I just received a business article about what successful companies do to get the most from their employees, to have happy employees, and to have employees who want to stick around long term!!
What they DON’T do is work on their employees’ weaknesses. Big surprise right? It’s now clear in the business world that if they focus on their employees’ strengths, the reasons they actually HIRED them, the employees contribute more and are happier. Working on weaknesses and trying to turn everyone into well rounded employees brings down their quality, productivity and moral.
Well guess how this applies to kids, and ESPECIALLY special needs children? Exactly the same. It doesn’t mean we ignore the need to keep make gains in areas that are delayed. But the focus should always be on the strengths. When the goal is to show that the material is understood go to strengths.
Encourage flexible ways of demonstrating knowledge. Can’t use scissors? Teacher cuts up shapes and the student selects the appropriate one to show they KNOW THEIR SHAPES. Can’t write alphabet letters clearly? How about selecting scrabble letters, iPad letters, or flash cards to show knowledge and understanding.
If the focus is on not being able to use scissors or pen, then all of the time will be spent on learning the thing that is the very hardest for your child. If they could do it easily they would already be doing it. Your child won’t have the chance to show how artistic, funny, creative, compassionate, or fun they really are. They will feel like life is a struggle, like they are a failure, and like they are different from the other children. They are the same in so many more ways than they are different.
if your IEP is about what KNOWLEDGE your child needs to demonstrate in class then the challenge is put squarely with the professionals to figure out how to use your child’s strengths so they can show what they know.
Focus on the positive.