An Interesting WSJ Article
Today, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal concerning Isabel Loeffler, an 8-year-old autistic and mentally retarded girl. Her school has apparently "resorted" to using discipline in order to restrain some of her wild actions. Naturally, in today's sue-happy world where your child can do no wrong (the "Little League Mom" mentality, as my mother put it), the parents are suing the school for using their methods. To be fair, actually, the parents realize that certain methods have not been working. The article has the usual disparaging comments regarding discipline.
You know something? I haven't the foggiest idea what are good ways to interact with autistic or mentally retarded children. I don't know all the things that make them tick. I'm not going to presume to dictate to others how to raise their children, except to champion biblical principles, which I'm convinced work as well here as anywhere else. What do I know?
1. I know that all human beings, autistic and mentally retarded ones included, are conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Ps. 51.
2. That means we are all sinners in need of the saving grace of God. Corrective discipline should be aimed at the whole person, a la Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tripp.
3. The common assumption, therefore, that children are all wonderful (indeed, often more wonderful than adults) needs some careful revision, if not upending.
4. What is more loving to a child: telling them they're wonderful all the time regardless of how they behave, or teaching them the truth that they are not the bright center of this universe?
5. We must show "special needs" children quite the same love and grace we should show to any other children. How that looks will doubtless be different from the non-special-needs child. However, it WILL include discipline (incidentally, discipline is far more than punishment for wrongdoing!), and it WILL include instructions on how the child is not equal to the universe, and it WILL include instruction about our loving and holy and righteous and wrathful-against-wrongdoing and gracious God.
Interestingly, another WSJ article today had to do with blaming Mr. Rogers for how all our children always think they're "entitled", or "special", often without working for it. Food for thought, anyway.
Now, here's a challenge for someone a lot smarter than me: take these basic principles and apply them to the special needs children.