Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to School

Aly started second grade at her new school this week. All of her excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity, and fear was neatly tucked away in her new backpack in anticipation of her first day. Do you remember your first day of second grade? The smells of the recently cleaned hallways, the clicking of lockers opening, the wonder of new teachers, the excitement of seeing old friends and the opportunity for new ones?

For me, what I remember most is trying on all my new clothes the night before to pick out the perfect outfit for the first day. As Aly entertained me with her fashion show and of course chose the one outfit I didn't like, I began thinking about how much we compartmentalize our lives.

Take school for example. In Massachusetts school starts in September and ends in June. We are surrounded by different beliefs about school; one that is prevalent here is that school is "work" and summer vacation is "fun". During the school year, weekends are "fun". You learn when you are in school and you play when you are not.

These common beliefs have actually facilitated generations of people who view learning as work and therefore "harder" than play. How many of you reading this post long for the weekends so you can "relax" and have fun?

Imagine if we didn't compartmentalize our lives into school, work, family, vacation, "down time", at home, not at home, with friends, with colleagues, starting a project, taking a break, etc.

One ironic point for me personally is that I perpetuate compartmentalizing with Aly based on my beliefs about "typical" children, but I don't with David based on my beliefs about curing autism.
We have been doing a relationship based play therapy based program with David for three and a half years, on average 50 hours a week. Often, when I talk about this with others, they respond in a way that demonstrates their beliefs about 50 hours a week of therapy.

They'll often respond with something like, "Wow, isn't that a lot? How do you do it? That is amazing."

My typical response is, "well, it's all play based so it's fun, it's not like focused, structured, therapy."

As I reflect on this now, I realize how ridiculous that statement really is. What I am really saying is that David's way of learning is fun and Aly's is hard work and therefore not so fun. The reality is that David has to "work" much harder to get a single word out than Aly but my beliefs about how the learning occurs differs. I now know that this is why David loves his playroom and Aly doesn't particularly like school.

I am excited to do one of the exercises that Teflon proposed in one of his recent blogs. Through some of my recent reflections, I have realized that in some cases, I am a "belief fraud". If anyone asked me about my beliefs about learning, one thing I would have said without hesitation is that "learning is fun!". My behaviors with Aly don't support that belief and I am excited to explore new behaviors that will! What beliefs will support the life you want to live? Do your behaviors support them?

Love to all!


  1. Wow, thanks for the inspiration.
    When I complain about my job I forget that looking at the small part of it, most of it is just fun.


  2. Kathy, what an amazingly insightful blog! And at so many levels. Thank you.


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