A few weeks ago, I was listening to an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) guru lecture on a few different topics. I love listening to Dr. A. because he knows things. Lots of things pertaining to kids in general and to kids with special needs. Not only do I appreciate his vast knowledge base, but I feel as though we are very near kindred spirits because he has raised a child with special needs as well.
Anyway, as I said, a few weeks ago Dr. A. was lecturing on this thing called Anti-Bias Curriculum. At first, I thought 'what a drag' it was going to be. But then he and another gal opened their mouths and started to talk about Anti-Bias Curriculum (ABC) and I found myself hooked. Rivited. Amazed. and Motivated.
At first mention, Anti-bias curriculum sounds very clinical to me. Something that perhaps schools implement to teach kids how to not be biased toward other kids in regards to their race, religion, ethnicity, social status, etc. Ha. Not so. SOOO not so. Boy was I off base.
What I learned was that this anti-bias curriculum is NOT a curriculum program, but is an attitude that we can take on for ourselves. People who adopt the anti-bias curriculum (attitude) basically strive to minimize all types of biases in everyday activities no matter what the subject matter is. ABC addresses biases for all the typical basics- race, religion, etc.- and it also includes things such as gender biases (ex. "pink is for girls." or "only boys play with trucks") family dynamic differences, and individual differences such as kids with special needs. (This part was the main meat of the discussion).
The amazing thing I learned about ABC is that kids as young as two years old (TWO YEARS OLD!) begin to recognize individual differences between themselves and other kids, and can recognize a difference in a child with special needs. The manner in which they treat the child with the 'difference' comes from our (adults) reaction and treatment of the same individual.
Anyway, my "few random thoughts" pertaining to anti-bias curriculum:
1. We were driving to see Grandpa today and I noticed that my 2 1/2 year old boy would not share candy with Kanani. He was more than happy to give it to his older brother, but he REFUSED to share with her. Oh my goodness, he is already recognizing the differences between himself and Kanani. How the heck do I handle this? He's flippin' TWO!!!
2. While I do my best to enforce a no-tolerance policy for excluding and being mean to Kanani at our house, I find myself unable to coax my 6 year old son to go further and stick up for her when she is singled out.
3. I hate the fact that my own family- my folks and siblings- are unwilling to join my cause and help her to feel accepted. I hate the fact that my in-laws are reluctant to celebrate the differences as well and champion the underdog when its needed. I feel sad that the people whom I trust with my daughter's feelings are people who work with her- her school aide, respiratory therapist, SLP, OT, etc.
4. In relation to this whole ABC thing, I learned of some research that reported that kids who have a visible difference (facial features such as Down syndrome or wheel-chair bound) are more accepted and kids who look NORMAL but have special needs (translate: act differently) are tolerated less. This disparity in treatment is true for both children and adults with whom our kids interact with. How unfair is this?
5. I was doing even more research and came across an article that talked about READING DEVELOPMENT in kids with special needs. The researcher basically said that in general, reading skills are learned differently in kids with special needs because their parent-child interactions are different from typical kids... the article basically said that I, as a parent, am so preoccupied with getting medical issues taken care of, therapy appointments, etc. that I fail to do normal activities such as playing, reading, and whatnot with my special needs kiddo. I guess I don't play very many games with her. And I know that she has less toys than the other kids in my house... I feel like a jerk. So much for trying to be ABC in my own house.
Thank goodness tomorrow is a new day.