Friday, July 8, 2011

A Child Is More Than His Symptoms

Do not mistake a child for his symptom.
~ Erik Erikson ~

This quote that I found this morning describes our philosophy here at Walnut Acre. We currently have kids here with symptoms and diagnosis of so many different kinds.

~ Developmental Disabilaty
~ Bipolar Disorder
~Speech Delays
~ Nonverbal Learning Disability
~ Blindness in one eye
~ Asthma
~ Dyslexia
~ Possible seizures (still in the process of figuring this one out)
~ Allergies
~ Aspergers
~ Learning Disabilities

There's probably more to this list but that is what comes to mind at the moment. And while each diagnosis is important in helping me to understand the individual child, I try to be careful not to let it be the focus of what I see when I see that child. Because even though it is so easy to focus on the diagnosis, the diagnosis is not the child. It is a way (sometimes a very flawed way) of helping me to understand some of the child's behaviour, but it does not define who the child is at their very core.

My goal is to make this be a place where each child is free to be the person God made them to be without undue attention to a diagnosis. Because the diagnosis is a part of the person, but that is all, just a part. For each child it is sometimes a bigger part than others, but always, it just a part, not the whole of the child.

How does this translate into daily application?

 ~ By listening to the child's hopes and dreams as well as the fears and concerns and treating them with respect.

~ By taking into account the strengths as well as the limitations of each child and planning the days activities and routine accordingly.

~ By providing activities and resources that help each child build on their interests and strengths.

~ By teaching each child to value the uniqueness of each person in the group.

~ By sharing the positive moments of the day with the parent in the presence of the child.

This is just a short list of ways to show that the child is respected and valued with all the strengths and weaknesses that are unique to him/her. There are many ways to allow a child to be the person they were meant to be including but certainly not limited to a diagnosis.

Because at the end of the day this is still true and bears repeating -

Do not mistake a child for his symptom.
~ Erik Erikson ~

1 comment:

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