DSM: Developmental Disabilities: "Can the student take responsibility..."

Holly L McHaelen (whoopskaboom@juno.com)
Tue, 24 Oct 2000 14:20:51 -0400

On Fri, 20 Oct 2000 02:43:03 -0400 "Joe Jackson" <shoeless@jazztbone.com>
> As far as bonafide disabilities are concerned (be they autism, brain
> damage, blindness, deafness, spinal cord injuries, etc.), I think the
> questions should be: 1) Can the school accomodate the disability (i.e.
a ramp
> for a wheelchair-bound student), and 2) Can the student take
responsibility for
> themselves in the school.

Thanks, Joe, this is helpful as a framework for assessing the "goodness
of fit" between a school and potential student. The first criterion
--can the school accomodate the disability--seems fairly clear-cut, but
I'd like to hear more thoughts on determining if the student meets the
second one-- can the sudent take responsibility for him/herself in the
school. Is this just about matters of safety and hygiene? Or is there
more to "responsibility", for example a responsiblity to be a
contributing and engaged member of the school community? Since there's
no curriculum and no requirements around a student's learning process, is
it important for a student to at least have a cognitive understanding of
the range of what's available? I think I'm coming from ignorance about
"disabilities" here, but I'm wondering about children with "delayed"
cognitive functioning-- might they be less likely to explore on their own
initiative as children typically do? And if so, what would it mean for
them to be in an SV environment where there is no effort to direct them
or engage them in a specific task/activity? I would imagine that a
child who's been barraged with targeted "special needs" services might
have developed more "learning disabilities" as Daniel Greenberg defines
them in his "Why the School Doesn't Work for Everyone" article.

 Also, whether children have developmental disabilities or not, how do SV
schools go about determining whether prospective students are
"appropriate" for the school?

Re: ADHD/ADD, there were several excellent articles in the July/Aug 2000
issue of "Mothering" magazine [www.mothering.com], they generally
advocated not medicating children, but explored different facets of the

Holly McHaelen
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