Monday, April 13, 2009

The Scrapbook - Photo 6

Here is the next part. If you haven't read them - these are the links for photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, and photo 5.

Part 6:

Now the scrapbook moves on into my graduate school days. We see photos of me sitting in classrooms learning about intelligence tests, the diagnostic criteria of mental retardation, and other concepts associated with the field of school psychology. Little did I know that these things would someday serve me well in my role as Quinn’s mother. In one of my first classes, we watch the film Educating Peter, about Peter Gwazdauskas, a third grade student who has Down syndrome. The film is about his full inclusion in the classroom. It was an intense film to watch – we see the other children’s reactions to Peter – which were not always positive, Peter’s aggressive behavior towards the other children, but then his ultimate success in the classroom. This film created intense debate in the class as to whether inclusion was appropriate or not. I remember sitting there all quiet and unsure about what I believed. Maybe I knew deep down that it would not be so easy and clear-cut for me. Maybe I knew what would be coming without being able to articulate this into words. I sat there during the discussion uncomfortable, wondering why my professor showed this to us and thinking about the difficulty Peter’s parents faced. Now looking back, I remember that my professor also had a daughter with a disability. Maybe she showed us this film to show us the complexity of the situation – her situation. Maybe give us an opportunity to see the parents’ side too. I missed an opportunity to ask her about her opinion, her experience. I regret this. I look at this section of the scrapbook and wish I could go back and do some things differently. There is another photo that also represents a lost opportunity. My first client was a mother questioning the diagnosis of mental retardation for her daughter, a first grade student. I conducted the assessment by the book – interview, observation, standardized testing, and informal assessment measures. All pointed to the diagnosis being correct. I sat with the mother and explained the results. I saw the pain in her face despite her strong exterior. I felt that I did right diagnostically in the case, but now know that I would have been much more compassionate in my discussion of the results. I would allow her to tell her story. I would allow her to speak more about her feelings. I would talk about strengths and support. I know now am a much better psychologist because I have Quinn in my life, but I regret missing opportunities with past clients. However, at least I learned this lesson now instead at the end of my career or not at all.

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