Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sandis and Self-Advocacy

Sandis has ideas about the services he is receiving in the school and the community. If something isn’t working well in school, he has an idea about why it isn’t going well. He may also have a solution. Sandis has thoughts and ideas and feelings about his life and all of his experiences and the people who work with Sandis need to make a conscious effort to find out what those thoughts, ideas, and feelings are. This will create a higher effectiveness when working with Sandis.

It sounds so simple. But how often when dealing with an issue with Sandis’s IEP have I asked Sandis what he thinks I should do? Not that often. Sadly.

So this time around, I decided to change that premise. I spent about an hour talking to Sandis about all sorts of things that we are going to talk about in the IEP meeting. I wrote down my questions, and more importantly I wrote down his answers word-for-word.

As a result of this communication with Sandis, the recipient of services, he and I came up with some pretty nifty ideas which are based on what he perceives his needs to be, not what professionals perceive his needs to be (although basically, he is spot-on). A few of these ideas are:
1. Offer gum, don’t just make it available, but offer it regularly. Sandis listens better with gum.
2. Remind Sandis to hurry up at lunch so he doesn’t lose valuable outside time.
3. Let Sandis take a “buddy” with him when he does his sensory diet.
4. Sandis has problems listening during math and paying attention because he already knows what they are going over. He isn’t being challenged in math, and needs more challenge to keep his attention.
5. Assign Sandis jobs in the classroom which will utilize his desire to be a helper and at the same time get him out of his desk and moving around the classroom.
6. Have Sandis help other students with reading.
7. Always have a helper for Sandis in music and gym because he really needs help in those classes and doesn’t like to get in trouble.

What is so cool about this is these ideas are a result of Sandis talking about his needs and his reasons for different behaviors. He was very up front about sometimes needing a helper, and he was also very up front about not liking being in trouble. He also emphasized over and over and over about how good of a helper he is. And ya know, it kind of does take a kid telling you “I don’t listen because I know it already” to realize that misbehavior in math has more to do with boredom than sensory over- or under-stimulation.

The lesson? Sometimes our most valuable resource in regards to making services in the community and at school work is the recipient of those services. I think the fancy word for this is person-centered-planning.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

The other fancy term would be raising a self-advocate. Good going Sandis! And his mama!