Sunday, June 12, 2011

Is There Such a Thing as Organic Intervention?

Is There Such a Thing as Organic Intervention?

I was led to asking this question after researching and digesting a massive amount of suggested “interventions” related to my daughters learning disabilities.

Something feels really icky about it. I felt unrest. I felt anxious. And what was worse I couldn’t put my finger on why. These interventions imply that each day “should” be scheduled, that specific subjects and tasks be done at specific times, and in a specific way. These interventions feel un-natural, wrong, and yucky, and these suggestions sound like things that will not “work” for my girl. So for days I have been thinking things over and trying to make sense of these ideas.

How could I make peace with these interventions, and hold true to our Natural Learning lifestyle? Do I need to make peace with these “interventions“? Do I need to honor them? or do I need to pay attention to the feeling that these ideas are not sitting right with me?

Lately, I’m hearing comments like “academically, we need to work hard to get her caught up….“ Caught up to who? I dare to ask. Caught up to her peer group? Caught up to her grade level? Caught up to.... herself? For what purpose exactly? Is she in a race with her peers? With the world? Do we value a system that wants to produce cookie-cutter people? Does my daughter want to be a cookie-cutter person? Does she desire SAMENESS with everyone else? Do I want to convey the message that “Sameness” is something we value and pursue?

Same knowledge, same abilities, same goals.
Certainly this sameness is NOT on my list of priorities.

I have also heard the thoughts that natural learning carries a big risk of easily getting behind. Again, behind whom? And in what? And so the fear is of what then? That one might not “catch-up”? That one might not reach a level of perceived “sameness” with the world? And that surly this would lead one to have trouble graduating, getting into a good college and making money? Is that the fear? Assuming of course, that money is all important! What if they never learn to complete tasks on time? Is that the fear? Is it time management?

Some have also expressed well-meaning concern that if our daughter had been in the regular public school system, perhaps the school would have noticed she needed help sooner; maybe they would have provided her with the help she needed earlier. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps “Sooner” would not have been beneficial to her. In fact, I’m pretty sure the timing needed to be right for her, and that rightness can only be determined by her. And I’m pretty convinced that her and I, by learning together for the whole 10 years she’s been alive, have a very good handle on how she learns best, and what things are most challenging for her. In a school system with a 15% illiteracy rate among grade 10 students and a country with a 40% overall illiteracy rate, I have serious doubts that this institution would have done anything near what her and I have accomplished together.

I would like to venture a theory of my own….
Perhaps, "some" public school children are “behind”….
behind as I would define it, according to what I value.
Behind in the ability to communicate in an authentic, honest, respectful way,
behind in the ability to form quality relationships with people of a variety of ages;
Behind in the ability to accept, to co-operate instead of compete and compare.
Behind in recognizing and developing their our unique talents.

Maybe “some” of these children would benefit from an Organic Intervention?

The kind of intervention that allows them to sleep in, to have slow, unhurried mornings.
The kind of intervention that would
have them putting their hands and feet in the dirt to grow food;
the kind that would have them learning
what kinds of foods are good for healing and healthy living;
maybe they could learn how to prepare these foods.
The kind of intervention that involves following a curiosity,
finding a mentor and learning all about whatever interest gives them life;
the kind of intervention that would hold that passion as more valuable than Sameness.

The kind of intervention that would involve volunteer work,
and getting to know Grammas and Grampas from many families.
The kind of intervention that would allow a child to spend time in a room full of instruments,
and the freedom to play each one,
to write their own songs.

The kind of intervention that walks in the woods,
and plays along the creek; throwing rocks, spotting fish and birds.
An intervention that involves being with ones family way more days than not;
an intervention that involves chasing butterflies- both real and figurative.
The kind of intervention that encourages creativity,
and the valuing of process over outcome.
The kind of intervention that would encourage literacy through the exploration of interests; reading and research would happen for the same reasons it happens for adults,
it would arise naturally,
dare I say Organically.

I guess that answers my question; there is such a thing as Organic Intervention! For this is what we’ve been doing all along. And as far as learning disabilities go, we will not be abandoning our Natural Learning ways. It took 5 years of consciously following this path to build faith; to see it working. I did not worry that my daughter would get behind in learning to walk, or talk, or eat solid foods; I trusted whole-heartedly that she was designed to do those things, and naturally would. I have seen a motivation for learning in her that was also put there by a designer; she is perfect and beautiful and anything but learning “dis-abled” in my eyes. She is a living, breathing, growing, learning being.

She is naturally a Blue Rose; why would I want intervention to make her Red?


  1. This is a wonderful post, and one that I can personally relate to. I've struggled with my own son, who has autistic characteristics, and so the "professionals" pushed us to follow their structured paths. When we broke away from their interventions to follow our own "organic intervention" (I love calling it that by the way!), we were criticized and condemned, I had to dig deep within myself to strengthen my commitment to my son, and to our personal values, to our individual selves and our unique way of life to continue to pursue natural learning and this unschooling lifestyle that allows for a freedom and joyfulness that mainstream folks just can't seem to comprehend.

    I'm glad to see that I am not alone, and you should know that you are not either. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Sam! Thank you so much for leaving a comment, it is comforting to know I am not alone in this... it feels kinda lonely sometimes. The majority of people don't seem to understand natural learning, and then you start adding LD's into the mix, and then it seems like nobody 'gets it'!
    Add to it that we are short on resources in the small town where we live, and it looks like any 'interventions' we think might be helpful, we will have to try doing largely without 'professional' help... which I'm obviously getting more okay with ;)
    I have been 'digging deep' big time, trying to find confidence and resources that I can feel good about, as well as being able to "let-go" of the anxiety that comes along with this. thank-you for reading and posting!

  3. I was so happy to read this post. I've recently realized that my kids have Asperger's Syndrome. I got a book called "Parenting your Asperger's Child" and so much of it feels so wrong to me. There's talk of making sure your kid knows about the latest fads and pop culture topics so they won't be ostracized and made to feel left out. That's just one example of many that just so went against everything we value in our unschooling life. I'm really wanting to connect with other unschoolers who have children with "challenges". I still feel that this is the best life for my kids, for all the reasons you stated in your post. Thanks so much for this!

  4. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog. My son has autistic characteristics and struggled in Public School all the way up to 5th grade mostly b/c of me not recognizing that he was overstimulated and being forced to conform to things that didn't make sense to him. We've been homeschooling or as you called it doing "Organic Intervention" since November. Ahh, life is so much better now! I've been blogging about our journey.