Waldorf and special needs kids - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 11-14-2004, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My older dd (almost 4) has some special needs and is currently in a city run program for special needs kids. She has a speech delay (is fairly difficult to understand by most people) and her comprehension is off. She also has some gross motor delays but they aren't that bad. My dh is concerned at the thought of ever relocating (which I'd love to do) b/c he thinks it will be too hard to find her the kind of help she needs. Can a child like this who needs more help than the "typical" kid thrive in a program like this? Would she have access to a speech therapist within the school or would I have to maintain that on the outside?

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#2 of 10 Old 11-14-2004, 09:53 PM
 
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Most of the waldorf schools I've encountered in the U.S. are just beginning to have extra services for children with special needs. The older a school is, the more likely they are to have such services. Waldorf style charter schools are also more likely to have extra services because they have access to state funding.

You would need to contact a particular school and ask if they can provide the help needed.

There is an association doing providing extended waldorf teacher education for children with special needs: The Association for a Healing Education. I don't think they have a web site. Here is the contact information I have. They have a catalog of books, offer a three year course, etc.

Mary Jo Oresti
Association For A Healing Education
(248) 398-7003
1403 E FIFTH
ROYAL OAK
MI
48067
mjoresti@aol.com

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#3 of 10 Old 11-15-2004, 06:12 PM
 
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At a regular Waldorf School you would really need to talk to the teacher that he would have. They may or may not be able to meet his needs. There are also special needs Waldorf schools. One is called...............AHHH! I can't remember what its called but I know it is back East and is really neat. Someone who knows.........please help me with the name of the school. It will come to me later and I will write again.
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#4 of 10 Old 11-15-2004, 10:28 PM
 
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Do you mean one of the Camphill villages in Pennsylvania?

Beaver Run - Camphill Special School
1784 Fairview Road
Glenmoore PA 19343

610 469-9236
http://www.BeaverRun.org

I think Beaver Run works with children who have fairly severe challenges, though.

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#5 of 10 Old 11-15-2004, 10:36 PM
 
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I spoke with the schools here in San Diego and none could provide my dd with the services she would need.We could do speech/OT/Physical Therapy outside of the school but the issue would be that she could not fit properly into the classes.They would have to hire special teachers to accomodate her and they don't know how to incorporate her into a proper class.She is 7 but has the mental capacity of a 3 year old.I agree with them that it would be a stretch but i so wish she could go into a program like that.I think she could thrive but she does need the stability of the schedules they give her in her special needs class.
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#6 of 10 Old 11-16-2004, 02:19 AM
 
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Thank you Deborah! Camp Hill, of course!
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#7 of 10 Old 11-16-2004, 01:29 PM
 
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Also of note is the Anthroposophical ideas about disabilities. From the literature that I have read, the idea is that disabilities are somewhat "self imposed" if you will, as a way of working out some kharmic debt or something. (OK I am saying that all wrong- someone who knows more please rephrase that). Anyway, you waould want to speak to the teachers/principals to see what their view on this are and how much stock they put into Anthroposophy. (For instance, I have heard that some Waldorf teachers believe that a "bully" is working out his own issues and so they try not to intervene so much.)
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#8 of 10 Old 11-16-2004, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khrisday
Also of note is the Anthroposophical ideas about disabilities. From the literature that I have read, the idea is that disabilities are somewhat "self imposed" if you will, as a way of working out some kharmic debt or something. (OK I am saying that all wrong- someone who knows more please rephrase that). Anyway, you waould want to speak to the teachers/principals to see what their view on this are and how much stock they put into Anthroposophy. (For instance, I have heard that some Waldorf teachers believe that a "bully" is working out his own issues and so they try not to intervene so much.)
Hmm, yeah, that certainly would be a turn-off if the teachers did not take my dd's challenges seriously. It's painful as a parent to watch her struggle and to know that her little sister (3 years younger) will likely surpass her language & comprehension skills relatively soon. I guess the idea of what you said makes me feel defensive as a parent for my sweet little girl who doesn't deserve the hand she's been dealt in life. Something I'll have to look into I suppose. Thanks for the info.

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#9 of 10 Old 11-16-2004, 06:15 PM
 
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khrisday: I think you worded yourself pretty well. But I would just like to add to it from my experience.


I would not say that teachers in a Waldorf school would not take your daughter's situation seriously. It may be believed that a child has a disability because when they were in the spiritual world they knew they needed to work on a part of themselves and chose to have a certain disability to help themselves in some way.........however, Waldorf teachers do not use that as a way to ignore or not care about a child and their needs. Also, not every teacher has the same beliefs. Regardless of where a particular teacher believes a disablity may come from, teachers take it very seriously and want to help every child, disabilities or not. Also, each teacher is different. If you like what you see in a school then talk to the teacher. You may like what they have to offer. I can not speak for every school but at the school we are at bullying is not tollerated even a little and I have never heard anyone say to let it go because a child is working on his/her own issues.

Also, as far as I know, Waldorf schools do not have principals. No big deal I just thought I would let you know that. Because the school is run by the teachers and the parents together, they don't have them.
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#10 of 10 Old 11-16-2004, 06:30 PM
 
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There are two different things here. One is the idea that struggling with something can be an opportunity to grow and develop. This applies as much to those of us with totally normal capacities as to people with challenges of any sort. I was watching my grandson today, struggling with trying to get himself into the right position on a chair. His foot was stuck. I almost started to help him, then I stepped back and let him keep on struggling. After another two or three tries he got it. There are times when help is appropriate and times when it isn't and it can be a tricky call to read it right. His mother is very strong on letting him figure it out for himself, and boy does this kid have a strong will. He will keep trying and trying and trying until he gets the hang of something. If he falls down and hurts himself he cries for a few seconds and then he is back up on his feet and trying to do it again without falling down.

The other concept is the idea that karma always lies behind physical and mental challenges. That isn't actually what I believe Steiner said. I'm not an expert on this, so if anyone has some actual quotes I'd be glad to see them. What I've heard is that children who incarnate with physical or mental difficulties are not doing so as a result of any sort of past problems. On the contrary, an incarnation involving this sort of problems is building future capacities for a later incarnation. Steiner actually said something like: "every genius has an incarnation in their past with some sort of severe problem." The curative education approach is therefore to try to help children get the most out of the opportunity, rather than trying to simply normalize them in some way. Oliver Sacks, in some of his books, talks about the various ways that people transform their problems into opportunities. He is talking about single lifetimes, but the concept is the same.

Finally, a problem may not have anything to do with future incarnations. Children may be part of a large population problem, such as toxicity due to pollutants. In such a case it is unlikely that every individual child "chose" their situation. They may have incarnated with quite different intentions and gotten screwed by the failures of the society they are joining. Anthropops who are blinded by "what Steiner said" could misunderstand such a situation and respond inappropriately.

Just a quick note on bullying. It can be helpful to let children work out conflicts for themselves, but grownups need to keep an eye on a situation and intervene if it gets out of hand. I think there is a danger of going to far in the other direction and turning every bit of childish conflict into "bullying." I remember a parallel situation in which a 2nd or 3rd grade boy was accused of sexual harassment because he was roughhousing with a girl. A definite stretch and one that made a lot of unnecessary trouble over something that could have been handled with a "playing rough is not okay." statement.

I am running on and on and on today. Sorry,
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