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DianeHB

HONY: Special Olympics Series

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DianeHB

Humans of New York recently did a series at the Special Olympics interviewing athletes, teachers, and parents. This series stood out for me among all the stories I've read on HONY because it is pure heart. The love that these parents and teachers have for their intellectually disabled children, and the love the children have for their caretakers and each other, are completely beautiful and humbling. It shows you the fundamental worth of every human being because they exist. It shows what it's like for each of us to be profoundly on our side and on each other's side and how mean "normal people" can be. I think some of these intellectually disabled people may have never developed Chief Features. 

 

Because of the way HONY is organized, it's difficult to share these posts as one link. Here are some highlights I picked out. You can read from the beginning by going to the home page and scrolling down to this page: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183453071666/the-opening-ceremony-for-the-special-olympics

 

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183528134546/i-have-twenty-superheroes-that-i-keep-in-a-folder

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183519501161/we-are-the-first-female-athletes-from-saudi

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183543727471/on-a-unified-team-each-athlete-is-allowed-a

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183594310956/were-from-the-small-island-country-of-vanuatu

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183642937861/i-tried-to-make-friends-as-a-child-but-it-never

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183700588596/this-is-the-first-time-in-my-whole-life-that-i

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/183871582351/ms-purevsuren-is-everything-to-me-shes-the

Edited by DianeHB
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ckaricai

@DianeHB The year I spent teaching special ed I kept thinking most of them used stubbornness, impatience, and arrogance. Especially stubbornness. I saw a lot of temper tantrums and refusals to do or not do something even sometimes to the point of schedule delays and/or violence. There were some kids you couldn’t say no to before lunch. They were all physically high school age (for SPED in NYC they can be in school up to age 21), but many of them were developmentally pre-k. So imagine a 6’2” 17 year old male with man strength losing their shit cause you told them they had to stop drawing to do in class worksheets. I had to do a month of crisis training to learn to deescalate those situations. I still ended up getting punched, kicked, tackled, spit on, and slapped.  I actually had wanted to ask Michael about chief features and about IMs in folks who were over 7 years old and not neurotypical.  I even think certain disabilities like down syndrome and autism are more prone to use specific chief features. 

 

That said, I also witnessed how open they were with their feelings. They were not afraid to show kindness, devotion, and care for each other. I had a student with limited verbal skills who noticed I was upset one day even tho I hadn’t said anything or even changed my demeanor. I thought I was hiding it really well. None of the para educators in the room said anything to me. They were pretty good about asking the teachers if we needed a minute before continuing the lesson if they noticed we were stressed. Usually her sentences were hard to decipher but she came over to me put her hand on my shoulder and asked me clear as a bell if I was okay and I swear I almost started crying because she showed concern instead of her usual typical teenage aloofness with adults, and it was the first time I heard her speak clearly. It was just such a sweet thing to do. These same kids would also tell bullies to be nice or point out when someone was being rude. They really cared about each other. I found that behavior quite moving....it was a very emotionally taxing job in many ways. Teachers don’t get paid enough. Anyway, caring for each other isn’t hard. We just put too many unnecessary obstacles in each other’s way. I agree with you about how we could be nicer to each other.

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DianeHB

@ckaricai Ok, you know better than me in this area and maybe it’s not that they don’t have CFs.  I was thinking that someone can have temper tantrums and still be CF-free because they’re simply expressing what they feel in the moment.  They don’t seem to have that filter people develop when they become socialized. 

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Stickyflames

Beautiful, Diane.

One of my favourite humans ( old roomie and friend) taught wilderness therapy for people with special needs.

From the stories he shared, CF’s definitely were present and sometimes quite physically volatile or emphasized in a huge way due to the fact that there was no filter for many of the people.

It was also really beautiful hearing his stories and how much of a gift he felt it was to show up everyday in these incredibly sensitive and honest groups. Someone might punch a wall one moment and be deeply emotionally vulnerable the next.

 

Thanks for sharing.

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ckaricai
8 hours ago, DianeHB said:

@ckaricai Ok, you know better than me in this area and maybe it’s not that they don’t have CFs.  I was thinking that someone can have temper tantrums and still be CF-free because they’re simply expressing what they feel in the moment.  They don’t seem to have that filter people develop when they become socialized. 

 

I wondered a lot how much that had to do with centering. The ones who were developmentally pre-k, I thought reacted from an instinctual center because they were essentially like babies. There are 13 disability categories that the US federal government recognizes that qualify a student for disability accommodations in an education setting. Each one presents differently and with different challenges and with different levels of severity. However, many of the kids I taught had multiple disabilities. Not all of them involve intellectual disability. Cerebral Palsy for instance, involves the musculo-skelatal system. I had some kids with CP who were sharp as tacks, but with limited motor movements and limited ability to speak because they couldn't control their vocal muscles. One of them was one of the most popular girls in school and managed to throw shade my way with her communication pad when she was bored. All I could do was laugh and remind myself that these kids were still typical teenagers despite having disabilities.

 

So they weren't all just acting on how they felt in the moment without forethought. A kid with emotional behavior disturbance can learn to temper their emotions over time. Our jobs as special educators was to nudge them in that direction. They're expressing what they feel in the moment because they don't know how to control their emotions. Seemed to me like they were using a chief feature like stubbornness, which could cause the crisis moment in the first place. They were told no and then started freaking out cause they couldn't have their way. To prevent a future crisis moment they have to learn all their bodily cues around that emotion and make an effort to self-regulate. They can't help themselves tho, so they go into crisis a lot before they can begin to recognize their triggers. To me that seems more like operating from centering than from a lack of chief features. Neurotypical teens are stubborn. Heck, adults can go ballistic when we don't get our way. It doesn't mean we aren't operating without chief features. We just have moments when we become overwhelmed and fail to self-regulate. I can't remember if I asked the Michael's about this or not. It was something I wondered about on a daily basis when I was teaching. Were they mostly operating from centering, were they stuck in a particular IM, and did certain disabilities cause those folks to operate from particular chief features? I have to remember to ask about this the next time there is an ask michael session.

 

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