reflections related to disability advocacy, family and (needed) cultural change
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Don't Dis Ability
Back a few years ago, B.B. (Before Blogging!), I was chatting with an acquaintance who was passionate about AIDS/HIV issues. She told me about this thing called blogging and that she was thinking about starting one. After our conversation I went home and set myself up to blog too.
I ran into this woman recently and asked her how her blog was going. She told me she had never actually started one.
Turned out that she had gone home after our conversation and talked the whole thing over with her husband (a web designer.) He had told her that she really needed a website before she started a blog, and before she could have a website she would need to be competent with HTML, and she would need a marketing plan and several other skills and THEN she could write a blog.
Her hubby had told her that YES, she was a pretty good writer, but writing is "just the tip of the iceberg."
She did try her hand at learning some of the HTML stuff, but found it complicated and uninteresting so she had stopped.
So, yesterday I wrote my 200th post and she didn't--despite the fact that I also only had the "splinter skill" of paragraph construction starting out. (No, I did NOT mention this to her!)
The difference is that I VALUED my splinter skill and looked for ways to turn it into something, rather than DEVALUING it because it didn't come in a package with every other skill known to humankind.
And the fact is I have learned several new computer skills from blogging... way more than I would have without it.
How many valuable and exciting things are nipped in the bud by this sort of de-valuing?
Lots. For everyone, I'm afraid. More, if for those with a disability.
When my son was younger there was someone in every team meeting I ever attended who wanted to exempt themselves from dealing with him, or deny him opportunities--in spite of his considerable language-based skills--because of the things he could not manage.
I spent years taking the skills the school labelled as "splinter skills" (and therefore meaningless) and re-framing them as "bridging skills."
I was constantly pointing out that things like language skills, which didn't interest his math teachers, could be used to improve his math skills...
The same with my daughter. She has great decoding skills and comprehension lags, so she isn't actually reading, according to some folks.
Yet, I find that when I am listening to her read and her understanding derails, if I hear her mention something like a character's purse, for example, I can draw a purse for her (adding a visual to her de-coding) and she will orient immediately to what she is reading. Her 'meaningless' splinter skills are the bridge to comprehension.
My friend's son loves to 'show off' according to his team. If his language skills were stronger they would call it 'performing.' My friend, on the other hand, works to use his love of an audience combined with his strong visual skills to insert story elements into his routines... thus turning his 'showing-off' into communication or story-telling.
Another friend, whose son is not diagnosed with a disability "has such great ideas, but he's so immature," according to his school. First of all, he is 17--of course he's immature! But wouldn't implementing one of his ideas be a great way to increase skills and maturity?
Reject the rejection! Embrace yours and your kids' skills--make bridges of those splinters--and see where they will take you!
I am the mother of three, wife of one. I am a Partners in Policymaking graduate and a committed disability advocate. I want to catch up on my scrapbooking, learn more about art-journaling, get my house in order, read all the books I have set aside to read and change the world--not necessarily in that order. The opinions in this blog are my own and not those of any of employers.