Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Recommended: Letters To Our Younger Selves

Letters To Thrive

There was a stretch of years in the early 2000s when one of the hottest topics in Special Education was "Transition". That's the name given to the topic of youth with disabilities in their final years of high school and what schools should be doing to help them make the best possible "transition" to adult life. Everyone wanted to figure out what combination of services and experiences would produce the best results in terms of general independence, students being more or less happy after graduation, and of course, gainful employment.

Most people interested in the topic seemed to settle on one or two general ideas. First, that schools should do more one-on-one counseling and planning with disabled students and their families, and start doing it further in advance of graduation day. Second, that schools should create more opportunities for disabled students to visit colleges and / or get work experience out in the community.

I have always been disappointed that peer mentoring didn't gain much traction. It didn't even get much in the way of proper testing and experimentation. Most funding went to training for teachers and counselors, and to work experience programs. It seemed to me that what students with disabilities needed most was real conversation, guidance, and support from adults with disabilities ... people who can speak with some authenticity about what the future can hold for kids with disabilities.

All of which I say just to explain why I'm so excited by the "Letters To Thrive" blog, where women with disabilities write letters to their younger selves. I hope either it expands to include men, or that someone else starts a similar blog for both men and women. Either way, it's a great format for the kind of wisdom it's hard to form into a curriculum or explain in a set of PowerPoints. I'm amazed something like this never came up that I heard in discussions about Transition.

I might try and write my own letter to my high-school-aged self.