Normal is one of those words that drives me a little bit crazy. I am sure we have all heard the expression - "define normal," but I think my aversion to the word goes even farther than the inability to define it. When we use it to describe something, we automatically imply that there are things that are acceptable (good and desirable) and others that are clearly not.
Current educational standards, including standardized and diagnostic tests, are based on this elusive thing we call normal. I know they use actual data to determine it; nonetheless, it is cherry-picked and tells us (absolutely) nothing. We are testing individuals with complex and unique brains - not programmable robots.
Teachers identify children as potentially learning disabled because they are not reading by a certain age, have poor memory and comprehension skills, are not behaving appropriately in the classroom, etc. And frequently, after a child takes one of these tests (or multiple tests) and falls below the standard scoring rubric, they are designated Learning Disabled (LD), with an accompanying diagnosis - verbal processing disorder, ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, and all the other Dys-s, etc.
All of which brings me to the most problematic piece. Who says that folks with said LDs should be classified as abnormal or challenged? When you look a little closer, what are these assessments actually scrutinizing - the child's ability to sit still in a classroom and blindly obey an authority figure and the capacity to think and behave like "everyone else?" I am willing to bet that we all understand that those "conventional skills" don't actually indicate intelligence and an ability to learn.
Why then do we, as a culture, automatically look at these differences and see disability? What if that person labeled with ASD, ADHD, or... has unique abilities that are more beneficial to themselves and the wider world than commonplace normality?
Imagine a world where, instead of looking at these labels as deficits and shortfalls that hinder that person and society in general, we evolve (dissolve) our definition of "normal" and then create a new meaning for LD - Learning Differences.
In that way, we don't designate bad or good traits and labels and, in the process, disregard a broad section of society. Instead, we can provide all the opportunities to (every) simply uniquely beautiful individual who all play a vital role in our complex world.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Six Days and counting to our Party in the Park!
Plan on joining us on Saturday, May 21st from 10-4 to meet our awesome DRC-East crew in person. (You will find their spotlights, here.) Dance and sing along to a full day of LIVE music with DJ Sal Sarmiento, a drum circle Jam with Sal and Catey Dominy, and three local bands: River Mohawk Band, Downtown, & Playback. Check out all the very cool vendors (including art and craft items created by the East Crew), bid on silent auction items, get your face painted, participate in the 50/50 raffle, and have tons of fun while supporting them to purchase their forever home and create a Cultural Resource Center for the entire community.
In case you missed it, all seven times it was aired, these amazing kids were featured in a piece on WWNY-News 7.