Tag Archives: Romania

The Power of Parents

Yesterday (March 21st, 2018) I had the honor and privilege to speak on World Down Syndrome Day to a few hundred folks in Bucharest, representatives of Down syndrome organizations and parents and therapists from around Romania. It was a wonderful group who were all anxious to learn and to help their children. From speaking with many of the parents after my presentation, they appeared to universally know that they needed a lot of help, were very receptive, and were more than ready to take control of their children’s lives.

There are a number of important points that I have been trying to communicate to parents, educators, therapists, and doctors through the years that were all pertinent and well received by this group, including:

  • Parents are the experts on their children.
  • In order to be successful, we need to work with the “Whole Child,” which requires acknowledging the parents’ expertise and giving them the training and authority to take the lead in their child’s development and education.
  • If we are to maximize neuroplasticity, we need to provide the child with very targeted input on a daily basis, the reality of which is that it generally requires if not the direct involvement of the parent, then at least the supervision of the parent.
  • Parents everywhere in the world can be empowered to help their child regardless, or even in spite of, the available “professional” help or lack of the same.

As I have worked around the United States and internationally, it has been wonderful to see parents realize that they uniquely have the power and ability not only to help their children, but that they can actually generally do a better job on their own, given a targeted neurodevelopmental program designed just for their child—a program designed to help them fulfill their vision for their child.

Perhaps it’s time for a bit of a parental revolution! If not a revolution, perhaps at least a paradigm shift.


Another Peek at Potential

Today I had an initial evaluation with a very cute, sweet 6 year old girl from Romania. This terrific child is being homeschooled by her mother and grandmother and is doing rather well, actually, exceptionally well.

This amazing child is a native speaker of both Romanian and English (I don’t know that she has ever been out of Romania and speaks with zero accent) and reads both languages at about a 4th or 5th grade level, is advanced in French, which she reads as well, is conversational in Spanish and German, and is presently learning Russian and Italian. Languages are her passion.

It never ceases to amaze me what we can do, where we can function, if we are passionate about what we are doing and learning. Intensity, Intensity, Intensity. You’ve got to love it! This little girl is doing what she is doing because she can, because her family has been able to help her pursue her passion.

Part of my discussion with her mother today was about mandatory school attendance, which will become an issue next year. How do we continue to provide her with the same kind of opportunities that she can receive at home? How can we help her pursue her passions?

These peeks at potential keep driving me to find new and better ways to help all of our children.

How do we stop school from not only interfering with her education, but stop it from killing her passions, her individuality, and her opportunity to become a truly wonderful, unique person?

Do you think that most schools really provide a vehicle for most of us to pursue our passions, to become exceptional and provide a foundation for us to spend our lives excelling and enjoying life engaged, contributing and doing things that we are passionate about?

What do you think?




At Least We Know How to Stand in Line

Hello from Paris! It’s 12:30 a.m. and I’m out enjoying the wild nightlife.

photo-13Not really. I’m sitting in a very hot, very humid, very closed Charles de Gaulle airport. It has been one of those very wonderful travel days. (Up at 3 a.m. to get to the airport in Bucharest, get on a flight to Paris, sit on the very hot, very humid plane for three hours before they decide it’s broken and they can’t fix it, wait around until after 8 p.m. to catch another flight. My connection left many hours ago. Eventually I will get on a plane to Salt Lake City, which I think is about another 12 hours or something. Oh, the joys of international travel. And let’s not talk about the endless lines, or if there is not a narrow corridor, generally masses of people converging on a target location.

Forgetting the mess of trying to get home, I have had a very good trip, seeing kids and families in London, Rome, and Bucharest. Got to discover “Old Bucharest” last night with one of our families and earlier in the week to visit their home outside of the city with another of our NACD families. I was really impressed by these folks. They are a lovely bright couple with a beautiful little boy named Tudor, who will be having his first birthday this weekend.

Happy Birthday, Tudor!

As always when I travel in Europe, I am impressed with how tuned in and informed many of the folks are to the rest of the world in comparison to many in the States; and I’m always so impressed by how bi- and multilingual so many of the people are. The wonderful young couple that I was privileged to get to know speak their native Romanian, French, English, and Greek. Perhaps more, but at least those, and they are economists not linguists. Most of the families I met with in Romania spoke very acceptable English.

Historically in the States we do a terrible job of not only teaching other languages, but also of perceiving that we really should do so. Growing up outside of Philadelphia, I had Italian friends whose parents or grandparents spoke Italian, but not one of them learned Italian. And that was often true of others who had family in their homes using their native languages. It would seem to be part of American/English language arrogance.

Languages as they are generally taught in our schools are really pretend, not designed with the intention of teaching you to actually be functional let alone fluent in the language. Typically schools start way too late and the curriculum constructed poorly. After my first year of Spanish in 9th grade, I had learned only one phrase, “Roberto es stupido.” It wasn’t just Roberto who was stupido; so was the teacher and the instruction. I had two years of Spanish in high school and another two years in college, but I think I learned more in a month in Spain than in four years at school. How many people do you know who took languages in school starting in junior or senior high who can actually speak the language? Fortunately many schools, particularly charter and private schools, are doing a much better job now of teaching other languages, starting in Kindergarten and, if possible, earlier and incorporating immersion as a significant focus, if not the focus, of the program.

Beyond the societal issues, research is showing that being bilingual helps build cognitive function and even can slow down Alzheimer’s. We as individuals in the US need to perceive the need to join and understand the rest of the world, to help our children understand that they live in a big world that they need to appreciate, understand, learn from, and join.

We in the US may not teach our children to pay attention to the rest of the world or to speak more than one language, read, or do math very well; but there is something our schools are good at, and evidently better at from my observations, than most of the European countries, and that is how to stand in line. Perhaps really teaching our children to speak another language or two from an early age might be a better focus. Reading would be nice too.

I hate standing in lines, any lines. Perhaps if more people were lousy at it we would find a way to minimize them—a better way. We need lots of better ways. Let’s keep creating them.

May 15, 2013 – International Day of Families

bucuresti2Today I have been seeing families in Bucharest, Romania. This is my second of eight days of seeing children and families here. I arrived in Bucharest after seeing children in Barcelona and London. Between these three cities I will have seen families from many different countries. All of these families have children with developmental issues; all of these families are dedicated to their children; and all of these families are assuming responsibility for their children and their children’s futures. They are all exceptional and can serve as models for parents and families everywhere, not just families of children with issues, but all families.

In all of my years of travel, seeing children and working with and through families, there is one glaring truth. Wherever the families live, whatever their nationality, whatever their heritage, whatever form of government they live under, whether the family is defined as one parent or two, as only one child or a house full, grandparents or extended family in the home, whatever constitutes the family, they are all united in the care of and dedication to their children and the assumption of responsibility for their children. These families are not looking for their governments to do the job; they rather universally only ask that the government stay out of their way. These are dedicated parents who are absolutely amazingly alike.

In the seventies I was the clinical director of a large United Cerebral Palsy organization. I received grants from the state and federal governments and created model programs and was by most definitions quite successful producing significantly better results than other schools or agencies. But I came to a realization: that whatever I was able to provide for those children within our school and clinics, it was not enough. I also realized that the governments were never going to have the funds to give the children enough, and that expectations were not based on potential, but on the economic realities of what the system could afford to give, and that over time everyone bought into and accepted this distortion of reality and potential. Actually, not everyone–not the families I have been working with all these years. The families who say, “This is my child, this is my son, this is my daughter and I am responsible. I am going to help my child be all they can be. Help me or get out of my way.”

So on this International Day of Families, I am happy to offer up our NACD families from all over the world as models for what families can and should be. All of us at NACD are privileged to be able to know and assist these fantastic families.

Related Links

NACD International