Friday, February 1, 2013
So this week's series of lectures were a welcome treat. C.'s school has hooked up with one of the world's great centers of education for the blind and multiply-handicapped. It's been a hectic few days. Like so many at this stage of life, we are now not only caring for children and grandchildren but for ailing parents as well. So with my mother hospitalized, finding the time for the lectures was a struggle. But my husband and I were determined to avail ourselves of this rare opportunity.
Actually, as "mere" parents, we weren't officially welcome. I chanced to notice a small announcement on the school's entrance listing the times of the lectures. They were intended for all the staff-members at C.'s school. I asked the secretary whether I could attend and she told me "no problem".
So my husband and I managed, between us, to be present for each lecture. The two lecturers, speech therapists (who were fine with our attendance, by the way) discussed and showed videos demonstrating alternative communication skills for children and adults with visual, auditory and cognitive disabilities. They deem communication a "human right" - a novel term which resonated with me.
They exhorted us never to give up on anybody. They said they have taught 40 and 50 year olds to communicate on higher levels than they had been their entire lives. They emphasized the importance of waiting patiently, sometimes an entire therapy session, for the desired response.
I know I've mentioned how essential waiting is in a previous post. But after these lectures I went home and waited even longer and more patiently than ever. And C. performed better! She did her "I want to eat food" sign independently - something she hadn't been doing for some time. (The sign: index finger touches her mouth)
Not surprisingly, the waiting was the one element that amazed the audience: in C.'s school there is no waiting. And I mean none whatsoever. At two separate lectures, it was the waiting that drew comments. Otherwise, the staff exhibited little interest, few comments, and even disdain for the refreshing and enlightening information they received.
Disheartening is a gross understatement.
We complained to the administration about the exclusion of parents from these lectures. Predictably, we were fed jargon about "laying the groundwork", "future visits", "we intend to include parents at a later stage" and "this visit was hastily planned".
Next post: more of the inspiring pointers I gleaned from these lectures.
Written by The Sound of the Silent