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Posts Tagged ‘autistic


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If you are born blind and have severe autism, your chances of living a “normal” life are slim.

But Derek Paravicini is a maestro with an innate talent that needed a nourishing environment (provided by his nanny) and some pruning (provided by his piano coach).

According to his TED bio, Derek taught himself to play the piano when he was four and gave his first concert when he was seven.

Not everyone is a savant. That is a genetic lottery.

Not everyone is given Derek’s opportunities. That is a shame.

We lock normal kids up in a schooling system designed largely to enculturate and industrialize. This is despite the opportunities and tools we have today to create an educational system that can nurture and individualize.

We have the keys to unlock genius and creativity. They are not as fiddly and difficult to use as before. Yet we let fear and ignorance hold us back.

010 | Suffer by The Doctr, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  The Doctr 

I like that I get daily digests of news related to education. Better still, these are curated summaries from all the major news sources in Singapore. So even if there is something in a report in a language I do not understand, I get a nice summary.

Here is one such summary. I have highlighted a phrase in bold font.

Education depends on “heartware” (Chen Yu Xin, Yang Dan Xu, Huang Wei Man and Yang Yang, zbSunday, 1/1, p16)

Report featuring hopes for the New Year noted comments from VP/Pathlight School. Pathlight currently had over 700 autistic students, and that in the new academic year, the school would have two campuses to cope with the increasing number of students. VP/Pathlight School said that they would continue to work hand in hand to create a warm family for the students, and give them support and help in building self-confidence and developing their ability to work. She hoped that in the New Year, Pathlight could become a community where everyone showed concern for one another, allowing those suffering from autism to receive appropriate care in areas of education, career training, employment, and medical care among others. This would enable autistic students to live with respect and have quality of life, and would be accepted by society. She felt that education was not lacking in “hardware”, but opined that with more “heartware”, there would be more love in the community and society would be more accepting of people with special needs.

After I read this report, I wondered if whether someone was “suffering” from something is a matter of perspective.

Are autistic students different from the majority of other students? Yes, based on what we consider normal. Do they think they are suffering? Not all would think so. Those who have autism might not.

Here is a thought experiment. We label some children as suffering from ADHD. But later in life they might be better able to deal with an even faster changing world and its distractions. If we look back, the normal people might be the ones suffering from slowness.

So who is suffering now?


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