Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Picasso & Ben:
Understanding Exceptional Kids

Just in case you need a refresher or are a new reader here are quick links to the first two parts.
Part 1 & Part 2

You may wonder where I’m going with this. I’ve wondered myself occasionally but my premise was made clear one day late last week. Jessie had two of her cousins visiting. It bothers her great deal that they argue and fight over insignificant topics. Jessie has never had to posture herself in such a way to gain attention from her parents or in this case her grandmother. It is a foreign concept to her. In Jessie’s world her brother is not that complicated. He wants her love and that of others equally. Ben’s needs are for the most part are undemanding and easy to fulfill

At the age of ten Jessie is just now confronting competition in all it’s finest. Ben is accepting of love and approval in the easiest of terms. Make me laugh. Enjoy my presence while I enjoy yours. I’ll give you all I have to offer and that is enough. THAT is what we miss as human beings beyond the age of “reasoning.” Our fears of how others perceive us outweigh our ability to say let me interpret what this other human means to me. Therefore those that are much dissimilar from the norm are so different that they are outcasts. Logic and education teaches all of us that unfortunate fact.

By the time exceptional children reach the age that they finally encountering the real world they have been studied, dissected, x-rayed, put into a huge folder and filed away under “Not Logical.” There are just a few of us now left to define what is not so simple or logical and are desperate to understand the most complex of individuals so we in turn help them to become all that they can be. And Picasso would say, “Good. Now let us get to work.”

With appreciation to the medical community the disassembling has already occurred. It is now time to construct this potential work of art. Ah, no brushes are available so we’ll use our hands and fingers. Oops, we’ve run out of canvas. Instead we’ll use this wood panel over there. In realistic terms sitting a child on an exercise ball enhances core muscle control. Using an electric toothbrush to massage a tongue teaches how to swallow correctly. Putting a hand in a blob of paint stimulates fine motor skills. As caregivers of these special children we’ll do anything no matter how unorthodox to teach, challenge, encourage, and heal them.

Obviously every parent must display a certain amount of creativity to raise a healthy child but it is the parent of an exceptional child that must use extraordinary means to help them grow. Just like the American GI in the earlier anecdote it takes a little bit more knowledge to truly appreciate an unfamiliar work of art. And that is exactly what every child is whether they are typically healthy or has special needs.


Nurse Lisa said...

Wow Bennie! Brilliant! That's all there is to say...

Kyla said...

Ooooh. This was good stuff, Bennie.

Karen said...

Very true. I don't know much about art or Picasso, but we are definitely getting a crash course in the unorthodox.