We have kids- kids with disabilities, behavior challenges, social delays- kids that are working every day to “catch up” to their peers. These kids have various access points: special education, counseling, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Behavior Analysis, the list goes on. But these kids are being asked to do all of these things in a vacuum. They go to school. Then go to the doctor. Then go to therapy. Then start a new day and do it again. Sometimes, many times, they engage in these activities on the weekend too, because 5 days aren’t enough.
As Behavior Analysts, we know the value of these services. We have seen the outcomes shift dramatically, in life-altering ways. A special education teacher teaches a child to read and now she can access a world of imagination. A speech therapist empowers the child to speak, and others understand him. A physical therapist assists the child in independently pushing pedals, and she can now ride the bike with her family. A Behavior Analyst shifts the contingency of behaviors and the child now engages with his friends.
These are all equally powerful. Equally meaningful. Equally respected. These are all life-impacting, valuable aspects for this child.
They are not the barrier. This is not the cause of inefficiency. Each and every one of those individuals, the teacher, the administrator, the counselor, all of them have the child’s interest at the center of their life’s work. They are not the barrier.
But imagine a space where these lines blur. The child receives speech support in those moments where troubling utterances cause stumbles. The teacher reaches a class full of students, passing on her vast knowledge while the Behavior Analyst supports the child, catching those awesome moments of engagement and stepping in to support in those its-just-too-much moments. The physical therapist works with the child at the front steps to the building, helping her walk THOSE steps. Imagine the joy the child experiences reaching the top, among her friends. Real-world practice at real-world moments. Building real-world skills.
Which society should we strive for? The one that supports this child, all children? One that is growing impactful contributors? Or a society that compartmentalizes these moments in the name of the status quo?
Changing the mindset is hard
Change is hard
But growth comes from change
Let’s change and grow. Let’s make these kids’ time efficient.