Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How Far Are You Willing to Go?

My Plurk buddy, AgapeJen pointed me to this article: I love you, mum: First words of brain-damaged girl, 6, given power of speech by laser which tracks her eye movements. It truly is an amazing story. I know you must be tired of me telling people not to write off our special education students but this is just one more example of why we cannot give up on them. Just because a student doesn’t respond in the conventional ways we would like does not mean that they don’t comprehend what is going on around them. We just need to find a way to overcome the barrier keeping us from communicating with each other.

The parents could have given up when she wasn’t able to communicate. I have had students who were not able to retell a story to me in their own words but that doesn’t mean they didn’t understand it. It only tells me that they cannot process it and do what I ask. Just because students cannot write a paragraph in the way I want, does not mean they can’t communicate their thoughts. It is up to me, the one with the background and the education, to look for ways that will enable them to communicate in the best way possible. I need to look at my goals and objectives and make sure that I am giving students a variety of ways to show that they can achieve them with success.

The parents could have given up because she was labeled brain damaged. How many times are we told that there is no hope for brain damaged individuals? The child could have given up because no one believed that she could communicate. Haven’t you ever given up because you felt that it was useless to even try? Companies could refuse to make tools for people to communicate because they don’t believe it is possible. Why make something they don’t think will sell or even be successful?

This story made me grateful that the parents did not give up, grateful that the child did not give up, and grateful that there was some company not willing to give up. The parents continued to hope or else they would not have made this tool available for their child. The child didn’t give up and persisted in trying until finally her mom understood. The company didn’t give up because they made this machine and sold it with the expectation that it would work.

We have to continually have expectations that our efforts are not in vain. This is a true example of why we should never give up! I hope I will remember this story when I am feeling down and think things are hopeless. It is stories like this that fill my heart with hope and makes me try even harder. How about you?

photo credit: Original image: 'Communication' http://www.flickr.com/photos/44586678@N00/1459055735by: Joan M. Mas
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cliotech said...

I think that the science of the brain is emerging. Just look at how much has been uncovered in the past few years . . . understanding neural plasticity and the wonder of how the brain can compensate and learn throughout life is amazing. We can never give up on anyone. I, too, find this story amazing as well as inspiring. Our capacity to learn is limitless.

loonyhiker said...

jennifer: This really shows me even more how much we don't know about the brain and what it is capable of doing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. I feel the same way when I work with special needs students. The human brain is amazing.

Mister Teacher said...

I agree, the brain is an amazing mystery.It's incredible that we only use, what, about 10% of it on a regular basis??

loonyhiker said...

Betty and Mister Teacher: I don't think we will ever know all there is to know about what our brains can do!