Seeing the World Through a Child’s Eyes

What does it mean to try and promote a shift in awareness in how we educate, treat, care for, parent, and minister to children who receive the special needs labels from the deficit model to the whole child model. Why is this shift in awareness necessary?  Are we not trying to help children who have a disability, disorder or disease to get healthier and function better in society by diagnosing and labeling?

I think what helps in understanding the need for this paradigm shift is to see the situation through a child’s eyes.  How do you think it makes a child feel to have adults tell him or her that there is something wrong with them. It implies they are broken and need to be fixed.  One’s self esteem cannot help but receive a hit with this type of message.  Put yourself in this child’s place.  Wouldn’t you rather hear that everyone has strengths and gifts and areas which need improvement rather than you have a disability which will limit your ability to participate in society?

Judith Snow who advocates for inclusive communities is severely physically disabled and can only move her thumb.  She advocates for a world guided by the giftedness paradigm instead of the disability paradigm. In this world guided by the giftedness paradigm, everyone would be seen as having two gifts, presence and difference.  We are all here; we are all present as human beings.  We are also all different in a myriad of ways.  Each difference is a gift, so that walking is a gift and not walking is a gift.  Thinking in unusual ways is a gift and thinking in traditional ways is a gift.  Seeing is a gift and not seeing is a gift.    Being highly energetic is a gift and being calm and ordered is a gift.  All are gifts which offer opportunities for meaningful interaction.

When children with differences, which we often call disabilities, are seen as having attributes of strength and gifts then we see children in a more positive light.  We can envision their participation in society as a gift and an opportunity to learn something new and meaningful.  We see the child, the whole child and children will blossom under this positive unconditional regard.

Categories Beyond Labels | Tags: | Posted on December 10, 2000

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