Abundance in a time of the Corona Virus: Is “more” better?

A good friend of mine recently invited me to join in an online course focused on understanding the concept of abundance and what it means in our lives. At first, I thought I have too many other things that needed my attention, but then I thought: What better time could there be than now?

The Cambridge dictionary defines abundance as a situation in which there is more than enough of something.  The opposite of abundance is scarcity, a concept that parents and teachers are most aware off. This awareness is prominent in our attempts to get young children to understand the concept  “more” to allow us to understand when they  want more food, wants to watch more TV or play for a longer time.

The concept is, however,  also frequently used in the context of abundant living, which relates to the meaningfulness of life. Abundance here does not only refer to the quantity or how much we have, but the meaning of  what we have in our lives.

It highlights the meaning we attach to what we have – and how this manifests in our lives by for example, observing a child smile, an act of kindness, appreciating a nice view, a flower etc.

Like so many other people around the world, I too am at home after the schools have closed to try and prevent the spread of Covit-19.  Being socially isolated, even though difficult,  is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the infection. We have all heard that, read that, but still – it is really challenging. Having children at home all day and not being able to follow the typical daily routines in the household, require innovative planning  to try and keep harmony and peace in the home.

As governments urge citizens to adhere to these restrictions, I am touched, however,  by just how many people have responded to this call by diligently staying away from public places and limiting interactions with others. One can argue that they are protecting themselves, but this action also protects others.

This realization made me think about how we view the link between self and other and the importance of acknowledging how our own actions form part of a bigger collective whole. We might not always be clear of our own intentions, but the fabric of our community rest upon the principle “for the bigger good of all”.  This principle of  “for the bigger good” made me reflect on a recent interview  I watched featuring Elly Frankl, the widow of Viktor Fankl. For those who don’t know, Viktor Fankl was a psychiatrist  and founder of the logotherapy method which was based on the principle of “the will to meaning”. He is also well- known for his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” which is an account of his perceptions of life within the concentration camps. The focus of his work was the exploration of how people can attach new meaning to their existence in the concentration camps.

In this video, Elly Frank talked about their marriage and her experiences with Viktor Fankl. She talked about how he was child-like in his ability to perceive and appreciate the world around him. She expresses her surprise in the fact that such a great and intelligent man, Viktor Fankl,  would have chosen her, an uneducated woman from a very poor background, to spend his life with. And yet, they were happily married for over 52 years. She elaborates on the fullness of her life and how easy this fullness makes it to accept her approaching death.

Clearly, the concentration camps during The Holocaust was an extreme example of deprivation. However, as we are socially isolating, I can’t help wondering if there is a message in this interview for us. Perhaps this is a period of reflection that can indeed create a search for new meaning in our personal and communal life.

What do you think?

Are We Missing the Boat in AAC Intervention?

Ferry boat leaving shore

Over the past 30 years of working in this field, I have often had sleepless nights when meeting a student in elementary, middle, or high school who has no or very limited means to communicate in spite of having access to a device or iPad with a communication app. I keep asking myself how it is possible that a student can reach middle or even high school without the ability to express themselves when we have trained teachers and therapists to provide intervention and support? Despite these resources, it still seems rather easy for students with severe communication problems to fall through the cracks.

Although the reasons for these dilemmas are complex, looking at the way in which we formulate IEP goals can be illuminating. IEP goals are often written to reflect outcomes that show the student has learned or gained (that is, variables that are easy to measure, for example, how frequently students respond correctly to certain stimuli or use language structures correctly within context), without due consideration of how what they have learned impact on their daily interactions. Continue reading “Are We Missing the Boat in AAC Intervention?”

What Do We Mean by the Term “Presume Competence”?

Competence: Child drawing

I just read a very thought-provoking discussion between some SLPs on an ASHA discussion forum and thought of sharing my thoughts with you. Frequently in the schools (in case and intervention discussions), we hear about the importance of “presuming competence” of a particular child or individual. As we reflect on this term, however, it quickly becomes clear that there is very little consensus on what this term really means.
Continue reading “What Do We Mean by the Term “Presume Competence”?”