When reading about various “cures” for autism, AD/HD et cetera, you’ll see the term “recovered” used. As in, “was ill but recovered”. This takes the medical model of disability rather far, from the sort of issue that may sometimes be addressed symptomatically using medical intervention (e.g. Ritalin for AD/HD), into the realm of a disease or pathology that must be cured using medical intervention.

“Recovered” can also mean “was lost but has been found”, which is not a coincidental usage when parents describe their child who was devastated by autism (slight projection there — I think it’s rather the parents who are devastated), and is otherwise doomed to be trapped in the dark abyss of autism. (I am not making up these catastrophic phrases; you can google them yourself.) And of course there’s the old cliché, “lost in your own little world”, which I heard repeatedly through my own childhood. (How silly — I mean, who else’s world would I be in?) Parents feel that when they try any number of cures and as the child matures and engages in less obviously-autistic mannerisms, that the child has been cured. (Hint: flapping less just means Read the rest of this entry »

Which Is Better?

When people ask, “Which is better?” for most anything, my response is, “Better for what?”

The same is true for any kind of debate about different teaching approaches, whether the subject is language, mathematics, or how we design classroom environments.

Take for example the whole debate about phonics versus whole-word approaches to reading. Each method is useful in different ways, and to different people. Phonics does give you tools to decode a great many words. But because English is not a strictly phonetic language, phonics can break down in the pronunciation ability, and especially in the spelling ability. One can usually come up a number of phonetically rational ways to spell a word, but only one or two will be correct (e.g. the British kerb and the American curb). So, let’s spell a word (I bet you can come up with even more ways than I’ve listed here!): Read the rest of this entry »