575. Ready-made Solutions

Having lived with gradually progressing disability for about ten years, I’m getting to know some things about what help is available. I’m also getting to know that many people have preconceived notions about what will help me, and when I suggest that their ideas may not be so helpful, some think I’m being stubborn. And since I actually am stubborn quite a bit, it’s hard to sort out my reactions – figure out which ones are rooted in common sense and which in stubbornness. Some of the ready-made solutions people suggest don’t fit my problems.
As I think about the learning difficulties some children have, I wonder about some of the ready-made solutions available. I remember hearing the words “Barnell-Loft” spoken at many meetings at which we were trying to figure out what would help specific children with specific learning disabilities. The people who spoke those words frequently seemed to be prescribing a medication. Barnell-Loft booklets, which contain exercises intended to build specific skills, such as getting the main idea of a selection, following directions, or finding details, are pretty good for some children.
But those booklets are not panaceas. Nor are they appropriate for all children. Like some medications, they can have side effects that are more pronounced than the benefits; for some children, the booklets aggravate problems. If a child feels bad about having trouble with a specific skill, it could be that the last thing that child wants/needs is a bunch of exercises that focus on that trouble.
Many people put a lot of work into developing materials and strategies to help teachers teach. As they work, some may remember their own difficulties, and some may remember the difficulties they’ve seen children have. The work they do can help children who really need help, and often does. And teachers are busy people;
they can’t spend all their time developing materials. So it’s good to have effective materials that have already been developed.
But every child is unique. So even though some idea works like a charm for one child who is having trouble learning, it may not work at all for another child with what seems like the same problem. Sometimes teachers need to modify modifications so that they’ll work for the individuals they teach. Sometimes they may decide not to use certain good materials for a particular child, because they aren’t right for him or her.
I now own two grab bars. I bought them because a few health care professionals assured me that I needed grab bars in my bathroom. I resisted at first; I couldn’t see what good grab bars would do, given the already small bathroom I have, and given the weakness of my right hand – the one I would use for support if I could. But I didn’t want my stubborn ways to make it so that I didn’t get what I needed. So I bought the grab bars. They are in my bedroom closet now, and maybe some day I’ll decide to have them installed. Maybe not. Maybe they’re just not appropriate for me, with my needs.

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