Here's a presentation I made on community and special needs children:
Conventional medicine and psychology typically ignore the surrounding social> environment in their assessment and treatment of children with disabilities > or special needs. Whether the child suffers from fetal alcohol effects, > autistic spectrum disorders, attention disorders, or learning disabilities> --> indeed for all children -- the community is important. Multiple streams of > research from different disciplines have shown that the expectations of > others> for how children will develop and behave are often more important than the> biomedical or psychological diagnosis. In this workshop, we will consider > how to> involve community in our work with children. We will explore how community > members can be a source of support and therapy and how to change community> expectations for children at risk. Examples of strategies include talking > circles, community meetings, ho-oponopono in traditional Hawai'ian > structure,> sweat lodge ceremonies and other rituals for Plains First Nations and more.> Through these approaches, people are already doing what has been called > naturalistic behavior therapy (shaping expectations for child development > and> behavior toward the positive with rewards inherent in the environment of the> child> accruing for small steps toward the goal with progressive expansion of the > goal as it is met). We will explore how to implement naturalistic behavior > therapy (which has been more effective than the more standard discrete> trials> approach) within communities using parents, grandparents, and others as > "therapists." These approaches are especially useful in rural and remote > communities> where trained professionals are lacking. They have even been shown superior> to "therapy" by professionals when the work is done by community members. > Finally, we will explore the importance of belonging to a community and the > support that comes from community involvement as was demonstrated in the WHO> studies on schizophrenia in Third World countries (better outcomes than > developed countries) and will consider how to support communities maintain > "ownership" of members who are different, thereby avoiding institutional> care.