Bear with me, folks! This one is going to be a bit different from my previous posts. I'm currently in Scottsdale, AZ with family enjoying 77 degree weather (where is the *praise hands* emoji on here??) and in between corralling our 16-month old at fancy dinners and sitting in a pitch black hotel room during nap time, I've been reading a fantastic, albeit challenging book: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.
Its tagline is "Medicine and What Matters in the End" and it's all about current (sad) state of care for the elderly in America. A very uplifting vacation read, I know.
As I read, though, I can't stop thinking about it through the lens of disability. After all, many of the only affordable assisted living options for adults with disabilities are housed in centers that primarily serve the elderly.
The book, while analyzing why so many nursing home residents are deeply unhappy, identifies the "three plagues" of nursing home life:
And this is the Aha moment: this latter list is what makes or breaks quality of life for ALL people. At the end of the day, a good life can be easily measured by having something to do, a reason for doing it, and people to do it with.
Why, then, are we not prioritizing THESE outcomes in our kids' IEPs??
Can you imagine? What if instead of focusing on solely academic or independent living goals, we crafted goals and objectives through this lens? What if the benchmark for a good education was not a score on a standardized test, or a traditional diploma, or a recognition of letters or the ability to count coins, but rather a true and sufficient preparation for a life of activity, camaraderie and purpose?
Because no matter who you are, or what your abilities may be, it is possible to have these three things IF the people in your life make it a priority for you.
So for me, that's my New Year's Resolution. When I'm working with a family, or in an IEP meeting, or making decisions for my own child, I'm going to stop and think: does this decision (or accommodation or goal or whatever) support the outcome of activity, camaraderie and purpose? How can we build these attributes into the every day tasks that must be done? How can I be of support to INCREASE the ability of this student in front of me to access these life-making or life-breaking characteristics?
What about you? Any New Year's Resolutions to share? We'd love to hear them!