In the last issue, I wrote about a Canadian book entitled “Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation” by Dr. Stuart Shanker (2013). This issue will link self-regulation information to the Canadian perspective, the Manitoba perspective and a Winnipeg perspective.
Brainwaves is a monthly newsletter designed to create some “brainwaves” within my community of colleagues, friends and clients.
A enthusiastic parent sent me this link to a CBC article; http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/canada/story/1.2440688
This article speaks about Dr. Shanker’s work in British Columbia with elementary years classrooms. The article states that Shanker claims “… Canadian kids do not know what it is to feel calm any more. There is too much stimulation in their lives…There has been a growing body of work showing that when a child’s brain is overloaded, the thinking part of the brain shuts off…and the child moves into the more instinctual mode of fight-or-flight…” The article goes on to describe sound blockers, yoga balls, movement breaks, and one teacher who “… has a large chart on the side wall with “How does your engine run” written across the top, a question she asks of her class every day.”
Sounds like what occupational therapists have been touting for years!
Most of us know that this is not just a problem in British Columbia. This Winnipeg Free Press article (which was also a front page article in mind-November) clearly shows that this is a provincial problem.
This article speaks of recent brain science showing the importance of the first few years of a child’s life, how investing support early in a child’s life could solve many of society’s problems. It states that in Manitoba, we have approximately 4,000 children born into toxic stress each year. The problem is, the article states, the system kicks in services when the family has already failed. We need to begin the support much earlier!
Here in Manitoba, we can be proud that we have organizations such as the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities who does support families much earlier. Their websites states;
“Children’s Services at SMD provide support and education services for children with disabilities from the time they’re born to the time they are twenty-one years old.
Children’s services enable children with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest at home, at school and in the community. The different types of programming also gives families the information and support they need to provide their children with every possible advantage growing up.”
So what doesn’t make sense is why SMD has laid off the equivalent of 8.3 full time positions in the pre-school out-reach program? These lay-offs include occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy. Here are the details…
Another thing that doesn’t make sense is that these lay-offs have been met with relative silence from the community. All of these families are now on a two year plus wait list and many are newly diagnosed families of children with autism. Families that have more than enough to deal with and don’t have the energy or knowledge to challenge a system…we need to do something for them…