Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model]Re: "ADD/ADHD" kids

From: Shelli Buhr <>
Date: Mon Sep 2 00:27:00 2002

Hi all.

I didn't expect my post to bring on so much activity. I am also going to
share this with the indigo children list. The beauty of these children
is that they are so much smarter than we think. They are really teaching

So, in the sake of seeking the truth for myself and posting an apology
if necessary, how do I access the archives so I can pull quotations from
the posts? This way, if there is a misunderstanding, it can be cleared

If I am misunderstanding something, perhaps it is because of my own
emotional attachment to experiences with my ADD/Bi-polar child. Not that
I am labeling her, but she has been treated as such by many various
mental health facilities. I am offering this as a means of

I would like to reply to just a couple of other things by offering my
experience, so maybe we can build a bridge here.

This is not about judgment of any sort and the value I do place in
Sudbury; in an earlier post, I requested to pay for a booth for someone
to share the Sudbury Philosophy at a conference. I don't see things in
black or white, rather varying shades of gray. And in my heart, it is

> << Sometimes the school and/or the family do not enroll in cases where
> it seems that the child cannot take responsibility for themselves. In
> some cases, this may be a child that would be determined to have
> learning disabilities.>>

with my daughter, especially due to her age, I would not enroll her in a
SVS school. By high school age, her interest in education was so
squelched by traditional systems that if she goes back to school, it
will be a long while before this occurs.

No, she is not capable of handling the responsibility of Sudbury. Now
perhaps, had she started at an early age, all of this would be a mute
point. I did not discover SVS until last year. I truly believe that an
SVS would have altered her experience, bringing out her natural
abilities, her nurturing compassion, especially with animals, and her
incredible strength. But to change her at age 17, I do not feel it is
possible, so I do take her age into consideration here. She at age 5,
wanted to be a teacher, and at 8 wanted to be a vet. Now, she will not
consider any of these careers because she hates to go to school.

 If a child already enrolled in traditional education did have a severe
case of ADD, could SVS change or rather, channel their energy into a new
direction that could serve them? At what age would programming be
instilled in the children that could not be responsible. Because I do
believe that all children will be responsible at some point; it may show
up at age 5, 15, or 50.

Back to the responsibility and learning disabilities. With Des, it will
take her many years until she is responsible, or at least by my
judgment. I do not believe in medicating children, unless it is
necessary. I love her so much more than being right, so if the
medication did help her, then I was going to offer it to her; it did
help some in smaller learning environments, and her IEP; traditional
education for her was not enough nurturing of her spirit, IMO. Sudbury I
believe can be nurturing to a child's spirit. It is my intention to
offer her what can help her, not what "I think" she needs.

Due to the extremity of her disability, she is entirely in the present
moment, which is by the way, an Indigo trait. She does not understand
anything other than where she is now, nor does she understand her
consequences. She would run into the street without looking both ways,
regardless of how many times she was taught, scolded, held, persuaded,
that it was in her best interest because she could hurt herself; even
seeing a cat get ran over was not enough, but in a sense, Des is very
instinctual, and smart, bright, but not logical. She forgets rules, and
gets so caught in the experience of that moment, which continually
changes for her as moments do. So the concept of responsibility is not
something she has yet learned by experience at age 17, no matter how
many people have worked with her.

It may in fact be a reality in her life for a very long time, often
creating many painful experiences for her because she cannot fit into
the box, any box. She is now 17 and pregnant, having no idea of how to
give birth, let alone raise a child; there is a huge chance this child
will be taken from her and it will probably kill her soul, which as her
mother, kills mine. And people stand back and tell me, well she isn't
responsible and she has no business having a child; my hearts because my
judgment is they are right. When I asked her if she knows that birthing
requires a hospital and about $5k, her response is, do I need a
hospital. She is not retarded, in fact, very bright, highly intuitive
and reads people and can blow them away, and has actually learned to use
this as a way to manipulate her environment.

Because her experience has gone so far, it will take a long time for her
to heal from a lot of the emotional and social experiences that have
come from her "irresponsibility." This isn't about fault or blame. It is
simply her reality. and just like as you were a teen, or a child, no one
really could tell you how to be, or think, you just hid it and sometimes
got caught. .

The toughest part for her to deal with is that she feels she is normal.
She is very bright, incredibly loving and creative. But all of her life,
teachers and other professional have said, she is not good enough. Here
is where I say, I don't believe any child is not good enough because
they cannot be responsible because it may be a physiological problem,
and in fact, many children are having this same problem. Perhaps my
question is not to address Sudbury but to humanity in general but what
about those kids?

I am a parent seeking answers, if not for her, for other children. My
role is to find a place for them. SVS/Summerhill is the closest model I
have found to date.

So I suppose, in a manner of speaking, that it is true to say that
Sudbury does not always accept disabled children, just like they do not
always admit white children and female children and stubborn children
and redheaded children and so forth.

No disrespect but you are comparing apples to oranges. Responsibility or
mental illness is not applicable to a skin color or religious belief. It
is a real part of society and the reality of that Joe, is these are the
children that are going to grow up and vote on your laws, and your
social security that you will depend on.

And our rigid thinking is not serving them. The Indigo children are here
in fact, to bust the system. And they are.

 is it really your intent to criticize the school for not admitting
*all* children, *only* if they are "special"?

I wasn't criticizing, I made a statement and it didn't even come in any
form of hostility or dismay, it was my opinion to something that was
posted from something that I read six months ago. If I was criticizing,
I would have done so 6 months ago.

and the word "only" is again another logical fallacy in my opinion. It
not because of this one thing that the whole cookie crumbles. And all
children are special Joe. And we are all children in God's eyes. AND..
if I believe its perfectly ok for me to find a fault in this, but even
though I may have found one fault, IMO, I am still standing behind SVS
to the point of wanting to building as many school as possible. Even the
best of life, will there be a sprinkle of the worst part of life. Its
what I call the opportunity for growth. In a perfect world...

Because in my mind, it is obvious that if a student cannot be
responsible for themselves, for whatever reason, they need to be in an
environment where someone can take responsibility for them.

 so then I guess my question to you is who actually is responsible for
the ones who fall in between the cracks? Don't they have the right to an
education? We cant all be Albert Einstein, some of us are healers, some
of us are artists, some of us scientists. My goal is to give them the
foundation so they can simply be nurtured; if it means an alternative
school with more structure and SVS philosophies, then perhaps that will
come into being as well

Special.. sure, that is a great word. I have enclosed a story at the end
of my post that I received in my email. Its called Something for Stevie.

Aside from the fact that the entire model is predicated on catering to
students who are *able* to take responsibility for themselves, in our
experience, it is clear to the family when they come through the school
that a Sudbury school is definitely not a place with the resources and
training and equipment (and money!!) to give constant supervision and
assistance to individuals who cannot survive without it.

Are there folks at the acute end of this "scale" that would tend to find
a Sudbury School not being the best fit? I'm certain of it.

 ok I can live with this. So maybe it is my job to take both the
structure and the wonderful philosophies behind SVS. Or maybe we can
make SVS the norm, so that those who require special attention can still
have the benefits of both worlds.

 don't remember that part of the book off the top of my head - I'm not
saying he did not state that

he heads up a chapter with this aspect, in fact, that was one of the
things that drew me to SVS. It was along the lines of how there are no
speech disabilities because children have the desire to be heard,
therefore are inbred with the desire to speak and therefore learn.. and
the thought of speech disabilities, although may exist, is few and far

 that we all understand that "learning disability" is a coverall that is
used to describe anyone from slow readers/ADDers/dyslexics,

in Psychological terms through a mental health diagnosis that covers the
treatment for ADD/ADHD and administering the use of medication, ADD/ADHD
which was what this topic is headed as.

all the way to people with strong obsessive-compulsive symptoms,
schizophrenic symptoms, Downs Syndrome, etc.

In the case of my daughter, she is ADD with bi-polar tendencies and lets
not forget autism. Obsessive compulsive is a whole other ball game. We
have overeaters, drug addicts, workaholics, control freaks, etc.. all of
which every single person alive will more than likely fall into one of
these categories. So again, I mean no disrespect but some of your
examples can be defending a position that doesn't need to be defended,
but the means of how you are defending it makes me feel that there is
still justification. Its all good. We are reading the same book, just a
couple of pages off from being in Synch.

And being an adult Indigo, I am here to see through the bullshit and
bust the paradigm in the name of children everywhere. When God looks
down at us, he sees us all with the same joy and love. No one is any
more special, no one is undeserving. We are all precious.

But is "learning disabled" a label with which it can be categorically
stated that Sudbury schools tend not to admit? Absolutely not, in fact
I would argue the opposite.

Again, I will go back to the archives. But I do feel I have also made my
points clear on my beliefs. This doesn't mean you have to accept my
beliefs any more than I have to accept yours. It stands to reason that I
have this disagreement and that again, is ok.

we find that kids who have been (or, in all likelihood, would be)
categorized elsewhere as learning disabled FLOCK to our schools. Ask
anyone who works in one. We've had Tourrette's, mild OCD, people who
hear voices, folks coming to our school. And that's just the staff!
(just kidding)

Which is exactly why I have also flocked to you.

And people that would likely be labelled as such in an environment where
ADD/ADHD/ODD is apparent? You must be kidding. I think I just posted
about that, and I honestly cannot say that I don't believe that two
thirds of the boys in our school would be labelled ADD. Seriously.

I saw your post and enjoyed it, pondered at the richness of it even.
Thank you for sharing that.

 Believe me, if the family and the student wants to try, our enrollment
people are really hard-pressed to turn away people that look like they
have the potential to live on their own terms

I hope that maybe in bringing more SVS's in, that no child would have to
be turned away. That is why I feel that even though I am not a teacher,
I do have the capacity as an entrepreneur to build schools by putting
together a prototype and act as a consultant. I would in fact, consider
it an honor and my way of not just talking the talk, but walking the
talk, which is the Indigo way.

So maybe I should end this by asking you Joe, what if this was you and
someone gave up on you? And as parents, what if this is your child
falling through the cracks? Seeing this has humbled me greatly, and also
brought out my warrior side. I feel we all have the right to an
education. So again, it isn't either/or but AND for me. I will continue
to watch this board, and hopefully learn even more, as I already have,
and am grateful for.

Thank you for listening. And thank you for sharing. You touch these
children in a way that is such a blessing. I honor everyone who has felt
inspired by the SVS commitment to children everywhere.

Many Blessings,
Shelli Buhr

Something for Stevie

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His
placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable
busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't
sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my Customers would react to

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and
thick-tongued speech of Downs syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of
my trucker customers, because truckers don't generally
care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the
pies are homemade.

The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy
college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish
their silverware with their napkins for fear of
catching some dreaded "truck stop germ"; the pairs of white shirted
business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress
wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable
around Stevie, so I closely watched him for the first few weeks.

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff
wrapped around his stubby little finger and within a month, my truck
regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot. After
that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of

He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and
eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt
and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee
spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem
was persuading him to
wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished.

He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to
the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he
would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses
onto the cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced
flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added
concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right and you had
to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was
disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their
Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from
the truck stop. Their Social worker, who stopped to check on him every
so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks.

Money was tight and what I paid him was probably the difference between
them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home.

That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August;
the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work. He was at the
Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his
heart. His social worker said that people with Downs syndrome often had
heart problems at an
early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he
would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a
few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when
word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery and doing fine.
Frannie, my head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a
little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Belle Ringer,
one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the
50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his
table. Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a
withering look.

He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked. "We just
got word that Stevie is out of surgery and is going to be okay." "I was
wondering where he was, Belle said. I had a new joke to tell him. What
was the surgery about?" Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other
two drivers
sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm
glad he is going to be OK", she said, "But I don't know how he and his
Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely
getting by as it is."

Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully and Frannie hurried off to wait on the
rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to
replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were
busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do. After the
morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper
napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked. "I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and
his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and
Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off" she
said. "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup."

She handed the napkin to me and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I
opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed,
"Something For Stevie." "Pony Pete asked me what that was all about,"
she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and
Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me
this." She handed me another paper napkin that had
"Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were
tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes,
shook her head and said simply "truckers."

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie
is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been
counting the days until the doctor said he could
work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10
times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that
we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking
lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back. Stevie was thinner
and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and
headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother
by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming
back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me." I led them toward a
large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the
rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining
room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning
truckers empty and join the procession.

We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with
coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on
dozens of folded paper napkins. "First thing you have to do, Stevie, is
clean up this mess," I said!

I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother,
then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie"
printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the
table. Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from
beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I
turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on
that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about
your problems. Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and
shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's

While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other,
Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the
cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired.

Author Unknown

from MountainWings:
Received on Mon Sep 02 2002 - 00:26:51 EDT

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