I struggled a bit with this week’s post, because I really wanted to write about Zoe’s IEP. Then something happened at the meeting, a lightbulb moment for me, that made me change the course of this week’s F-word post.
Today, I want to talk about framing. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a term – frequently used in politics – to “reframe” or change the discussion about an issue to put yourself or your idea in a more positive light or, in politics, to put your opponent in a bad light. Framing exists outside of conventional thinking and sometimes even facts.
I won’t go down the political road. I’ll instead give you an example more relevant to this blog. People, such as my girls, are labeled in this day and age as “learning disabled”. However, there is a movement out there to change this to “differently abled”. After all, the difficulty Amelia has with math and Zoe with speech does not mean they will not excel in other areas (compassion, athletics, alternate academics, etc).
This hit home yesterday, as Zoe’s teacher was describing certain ASD behaviors when talking about a peg. For Zoe, it has taken us a while to get her to learn to play appropriately with toys. Her teacher was describing that she has just started playing with pegs appropriately, and then proceeded to tell me about how many kids on the autism spectrum will take the peg and hold rolling it over and over in their hands, fascinated by the shape or roundness or color.
That’s when the light bulb went off. I kind of thought, What’s wrong with that?
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that children do need to learn to use objects appropriately. I’m certainly not suggesting that we discard this type of therapy – that is, teaching children “appropriate” behaviors, responses, usage.
I do, however, think we can frame it better. If you think about it, all those “appropriate” things were determined by cultures, norms, mores, etc. What is appropriate, normal, typical? Do you know? Because I’m 44 and I certainly don’t.
What if we really played to our strengths, our kids’ strengths? What if we didn’t look at that super observation thing as a thing to remove, but as a thing we could focus or use somehow in a positive way?
Maybe I’m way off base, but I like this idea of framing our kids “dis”-abilities, and our own short-comings to have a positive outcome. If this is the natural way their brains work, shouldn’t we find a way to work with them, instead of forcing them outside their box all the time for everything.
In the past, I have framed my faults. I’m not naturally volatile, I’m passionate. I don’t cry easily, I have a depth of emotion. And my kids? Well, guess what? I see them through that frame already. Amelia is compassionate, nurturing, strong, athletic, and Zoe is passionate, determined, focused.