Forget the Labels

Forget the Labels…Focus on Strategies
By Dr. Nanette Bowles

Dr. Nanette BowlesI don’t want to focus on a specific disability this month.  Maybe sometimes we focus too much on labels when it would be helpful to focus on strategies.  Here are several examples of common behaviors, the potential underlying difficulty, and ideas for strategies.

Focus and Attention
1. Behaviors-Appear to be daydreaming and non-responsive
2. Difficulty-Easily overloaded with high amounts of oral information
3. Strategies-Use pauses when giving instructions to allow information to be processed; use short, simple sentences when explaining information

Social Awareness
1. Behaviors-Unaware that others do not want to be bothered while they are talking or playing
2. Difficulty-Not able to read non-verbal cues
3. Strategies-Use pre-established non-verbal cues to alert person that behaviors are inappropriate; explain what was wrong with the behavior and what would have been appropriate

Processing Information
1. Behaviors-Appears not to know the answer, when called upon
2. Difficulty-Delayed responses Strategies-Allow extra time to discuss and explain; avoid asking too many questions

1. Behaviors-Performs steps out of sequence, either fixating on one step or performing the most apparent one and not the others
2. Difficulty-Can’t mentally organize information presented verbally or in writing
3. Strategies-Provide written 3-4 step sequences to sort and organize; don’t allow steps to be skipped during demonstration

1. Behaviors-Unable to maintain the ability to sort out and note the important parts of information
2. Difficulty-Comprehending spoken messages if presented in complex terms, rapidly or lengthy
3. Strategies-Use short, simple sentences, emphasizing key points by voice variation, intonations, etc.

So. who might benefit from these strategies?
Individuals with intellectual, learning or psychiatric disabilities? Traumatic
brain injuries?  What about ADD, ADHD, autism, etc?  Really…does it matter??

As you read through these, how many of the ideas would be helpful to you and most
anyone you know?  The truth is none of us is at 100% all the time.  Most of us may
find that we can use these strategies for ourselves and/or with others.  So, instead of focusing on the label of the month or what people “have”, let’s focus on how ways we can make the most of this life.  Enjoy!