Sunday, 20 February 2011

Because Everything’s A ‘Disability’ Now…

At the age of nine, Victoria is the type of child who the other girls in her class describe as "a bit weird". There's something about her body language – and the way she "hovers" at the edge of their games, but doesn't join in – which makes them uncomfortable.
There are always ‘outsiders’. People who don’t fit in, who can’t quite ‘get’ relationships.

‘Twas ever thus.
Behind her back, although never to her face, the other children complain that Victoria is a "show-off" because she talks "at" them instead of listening to what they say. So at break-time, Victoria often finds she has no-one to play with.
Which is sad, but what can anyone do?
For Victoria's mother, Amanda, it's painful to watch. "Because Victoria is bright, I used to think she was just grown-up for her age, preferred talking to adults and that she'd grow out it. But now it's so heartbreaking to see her being left out of all the parties and sleepovers I know are happening in Year Four. She tells me she prefers adults and she doesn't care what people think of her, but I feel like I am a failure. I worry for her future, too. Girls her age can be very judgemental – and once you get labelled as weird it's hard to escape that tag."
Enter the ‘experts’:
Yet until now, it's always been assumed making friends is something that young people should learn to do by themselves – even if some are naturally better at it than others. Now that idea is being turned on its head by a new approach that treats problems forming social relationships in the same way as a learning difficulty, like dyslexia.
*sigh*

Attracting the same sort of research grants, allowances, recognition for the ‘experts’, perhaps?
Just as those children can't make sense of the letters they see on a page, unpopular children also have problems understanding and interpreting social cues others use.
So they must be ‘disabled’, right? And there must be people making a living out of…

Ah. Right on cue:
… in the same way as techniques have been developed to help with those with academic learning difficulties, there are now skills that can aid children with poor social interaction, according to American child communication expert Michelle Garcia Winner, who first devised the Social Thinking programme to teach "bright but socially clueless students" at high schools in California. Her methods aim to help children become aware of how to act "acceptably" to others. Her ideas are rapidly gaining currency here and are being taught to teachers and parents at the New Learning Centre in North London.
First, America (home of the ‘worried well’), next, the world!
Janis -Norton says: "Having poor social skills is a learning difficulty that needs to be addressed. These kids are also wrongly seen by teachers as deliberately obstructionist in class – for example, because they don't understand that a suggestion is actually an instruction. In fact the part of their brain that is supposed to interpret these signals is wired differently. When they realise this, both teachers and parents often feel very guilty that they once got so angry or impatient with them. But it's like getting angry with someone with a limp."
Of course it is. It’d be cruel to do so, right. The fault clearly must lie with everyone else
Looking back at our own schooldays, most of us remember the loner in our class who nobody wanted to play with at break-time. But Janis-Norton is hopeful it's a curse that shouldn't befall future generations. "It's tragic how many children have been ostracised because of this neurological trait in the past. Yet so many other children can be spared from suffering in the same way."
And when you’ve eliminated all normal human variation, or at least, ‘explained’ it away as a disability, what then?

Will you have eliminated everything that makes us human?

15 comments:

Longrider said...

I was a bit like that as a child. I ended up gravitating to those of a similar disposition.

Still, if there's compo in it, count me in, eh? ;)

Billy can said...

So, let me get this straight... years ago I was an obnoxious, self-centred child who was in line or the title of billy no-mates. But back then, there was no one to help me (other than the usual need to work it out for yourself and generally avoid stupidity).

But now... Eureka! If I could have my childhood all over again, I could be helped! Nay, not just helped but guided and refined and directed!

And what did I learn all on my own in the intervening years? Put plainly, the more experts you have the more they need to make a well-buttered crust having ideas and theories and being praised (and paid)

But of course, the day will come when some of these experts turn out to be back with the Billy no-mates...

Captain Haddock said...

"Will you have eliminated everything that makes us human" ?

Of course they will .. that's their ultimate goal .. which will make us all that much easier to control forever more ..

Anonymous said...

I recall something on the Dr Helen Bolg about how the psychological profession is overwhelmingly left-wing.

I have no time for any of their pseudo-science. Quantifying common sense...and failing.

phiangle said...

Great, now poor little Billy is going to face the prospect of having the stuffing knock out of him because he is being forced to join in the 'fun and games' with the other kids. Kids being kids will instead of ignoring billy vent their feeling about having him forced into their social circle, making poor Billy more unhappy than simply being ignored.

Do you think anybody asked Billy what he wants?

David C said...

Great post Julia, thanks

Captain Haddock said...

"Do you think anybody asked Billy what he wants" ?

What the hell does "Billy" have to do with this ? ..

"Billy" (and his like) are merely the means to more non-jobs being created, more "suckers at the public teat" to be employed .. more easy money to be made, with which to pay for Second homes, Skiing holidays & Private school fees ..

If poor old "Billy" loses out .. who cares .. we're all taken care of & feather-bedded ..

And in any case .. there are still plenty more "Billy's" out there, just waiting to be discovered and exploited ..

Anonymous said...

Longrider said: "I was a bit like that as a child. I ended up gravitating to those of a similar disposition."

Absolutely spot on. My son has learned to do the same...with some encouragement from me...and a little help from some "real" friends.

Children find their own way eventually...such is the harsh reality of life...but if they have half-decent parents there is no need whatsoever for a so-called tax-payer funded self-serving "expert" to get involved at all.

Don't allow your child to become a victim to this insidious "victim-culture". It's the worst thing you could possibly do.

Anonymous said...

If part of the reason for this girls alienation is because she is bright - I take that to mean of above average intelligence - then wouldnt the answer be for more meritocratic streaming in and between schools.

If she were then mixing more with children of similar abilities she wouldnt be as left out.

JuliaM said...

"Still, if there's compo in it, count me in, eh? ;)"

There's bound to be!

"...the more experts you have the more they need to make a well-buttered crust having ideas and theories and being praised (and paid)"

Spot on!

"Children find their own way eventually...such is the harsh reality of life..."

It seems mankind cannot bear too much reality in these modern times...

"If part of the reason for this girls alienation is because she is bright - I take that to mean of above average intelligence - then wouldnt the answer be for more meritocratic streaming in and between schools."

Ooooh, now, there's a can of worms the progressives would rather not open, I suspect... ;)

Diesel said...

"These kids are also wrongly seen by teachers as deliberately obstructionist in class – for example, because they don't understand that a suggestion is actually an instruction."

Well, if the teachers stopped being so fucking touchy-feely and gave instructions, rather than some wishy-washy psuedo-babble instruction-dressed-up-as-a-feel-good-request, then perhaps even the sociopaths would understand.

Diesel said...

"These kids are also wrongly seen by teachers as deliberately obstructionist in class – for example, because they don't understand that a suggestion is actually an instruction."

Well, if the teachers stopped being so fucking touchy-feely and gave instructions, rather than some wishy-washy psuedo-babble instruction-dressed-up-as-a-feel-good-request, then perhaps even the sociopaths would understand.

Sue Marsh said...

What a stupid, nasty little piece this is.
Obviously you are the people that bullied kids like this - in fact, it has been proven that people like you have something wrong with your frontal cortex too - you have little empathy or understanding of potential outcomes.
Small minded, cosy, insulated little people who would rather sneer at something than sort it out.
The "Life's tough and I'm alright Jack" brigade.
So, if Autism and Aspbergers don't exist in your world, I assume dyslexia, illness, pain, depression etc don't either.
And never, ever have the words "There but for the grace of God go I" occurred to you.

Longrider said...

Obviously you are the people that bullied kids like this - in fact, it has been proven that people like you have something wrong with your frontal cortex too - you have little empathy or understanding of potential outcomes.

Reading comprehension isn't your strong point, is it? What part of "I was like that as a child" did you fail to grasp?

There is noting wrong with such children and left to their own devises will sort it out for themselves.

"And never, ever have the words "There but for the grace of God go I" occurred to you."

I did. I got over it. It made me stronger.

banned said...

"Victoria is a "show-off" because she talks "at" them instead of listening to what they say"

Wouldn't be anything to do with the way poor old mum brought her up would it?