Saturday, February 19, 2011
Response to Dr. Dizon's "Loving and Beyond loving a special child"
Reading Dr. Edilberto Dizon’s article titled “Loving and beyond loving a special child” brings to mind a number of things I’ve been meaning to say in special education. One of such things is the matter on how well our nation takes care of its own people, especially those with special needs. I remember a quote from Reader’s Digest saying that an excellent way to gauge the strength of a government is to count how many of its people want to work and live abroad and how many people from other countries want to enter and live under the rule of such government. Then I thought to myself that, perhaps, another way to tell whether a government is taking good care of its people is to check whether it provides strong support to its senior citizens.
This time, Dr. Dizon’s thoughts on the matter of developing a special child makes me think that another test of government’s concern for its people is to ask whether it looks after those who are in need of special attention. I’d been to many parts of our country, and casual observation, I’d say, is enough to confirm the suspicion that the leaders that had and have been tasked to run our nation are not working hard enough to contribute to the physical, psychological, emotional, and intellectual growth of its people. Read our newspapers, watch the news on TV, or listen to the news on the radio and you’ll see how many of our people suffer from unspeakable neglect, the kind that belongs only to the realm of darkest dreams and imagination.
Most of those who need special assistance suffer more owing to the bone chilling negligence with which the administration, one after another, would run this supposedly great nation. Not even a flicker of interest in advancing the quality of life of special people could be discerned among our local and national leaders. Sadly, this has become a criticism to which the administrators of the government have been desensitized or have grown quite accustomed. The criticism itself has become a victim of surreal neglect.
It’s quite a relief that the article Loving and Beyond shows that there is hope. It offers a good glimpse of what the private citizens could do, even in the absence of government assistance, to maximize the growth and to realize the potentials of children with special needs. It’s good that Dr. Dizon talked at a SPED conference about a great way to address the gargantuan problem of maximizing the humanity of every special child. It reassures too that the SPED Area of the UP College of Education shows that it has a clear vision of Dr. Dizon's guiding concepts and principles which are doubtless very important components of special child development. I’ll say a few words, as my reaction, about each of such thematic thoughts.
On being, Dr. Dizon said that the “child is not more loved or favored.” This should have a humbling effect on any reasonable person as doubtless, all humans, regardless of their traits, are equal in the eyes of God and the human law. Referring to the special child, Dr. Dizon thus reads: “He/she simply needs to have that love expressed much more than any other child” (Italic mine).
The principle of believing is refreshing. It makes me think that one’s dealings with his/her fellow human, especially with those who need special help, can only be potent if we have faith that better or desirable goals are attainable. That is to say, the goals can only have substance in the context of having faith or trust in what the special person can possibly become. It makes me nod to see that believing and becoming are strongly connected in facilitating the development of a special child. Dr. Dizon perceptively intimates that it’s unwise to measure what a child can or should be able to do and become from the vantage point of the achievements of other children. This brings to mind the idea of respect for both the individuality and humanity of the special child.
It’s good that Dr. Dizon mentioned first the idea of being, which suggests equality, before turning to bonding and belonging. It’s difficult to talk of human bonding if the facilitator of the special child’s learning does not recognize him/her to be as human as the facilitator. Likewise, it’s impossible for special children to be genuinely connected—in the sense of belonging—to someone who does not have the required character to relate with them. Quite rightly, Dr. Dizon suggests that bonding and belonging should begin at the special child’s home and immediate community, the take off ground of special learning. This is a very important advice for numerous reasons. One very important wisdom, I believe, is that bonding and belonging make anyone, not only the special ones, feel good about him-/herself. And when one feels good about him-/herself, self-esteem and confidence are building up. This point makes me think of the principle of believing one more time. Special children are inspired to dream, to do their best, when people around them believe in what they are realistically capable of doing. But it’s hard to spot the potentials of the special child when they are not strongly connected to those who are supposed to help them. It is thus enlightening that Dr. Dizon includes bonding and belonging in his thematic thoughts on therapeutic education. For both are foundations of believing and dreaming.
The idea of going beyond the range of the moment when planning for and assisting a special child is likewise related to the concepts of being, believing, becoming, bonding, and belonging. I understand that having a special child always rouses fear among parents who worry about who’s going to look after the kid once the parents are gone. Dr. Dizon’s thoughts on the matter of transmitting skills and knowledge to attain a certain degree of self-sufficiency on the part of special children is laudable. It reminds the parents that they can do a lot of things to get the special children to surmount the challenge of their special conditions. This point draws support from a lot of studies that suggest that special children are capable of helping themselves, if only we shall be wise enough to teach and support them first.
I have no doubt that all those B’s are necessary guiding principles that will provide a clear direction for special education facilitators and family of special children who should work together to maximize the potentials of special children.