The blog is number 1. My colleague at UMass Boston informed me that my blog is currently the number 1 UMB Blog for June. Please keep reading and learning about the project and my trip.
This week we went to several meetings with pediatricians and a clinical psychologist. One of the interesting things that was discussed at the meetings was the question, “Why do we need to know the cause or exact severity of the disability?” In the US, we want to know the cause of the disability and we want to test and use CAT Scans and MRIs to look at neurological damage and we want to know what caused it and why. I think wanting to know is important in many cultures, but then after we know that a child will have an intellectual disability, what do we gain from knowing why they have it? Using medical and psychological tests coupled with adaptive behavior scales and ruling out other causes, we can somewhat definitely determine that a child has an intellectual disability. But then that information is used to label the child and develop the IEP. In Tanzania, it is expensive and not realistic to do CAT scans or MRIs for these reasons and we have already determined that the children we are talking about are significantly behind their peers in the classroom and that the educational system they are experiencing is not working for them. Does knowing or communicating a specific cause and term help these kids? It doesn’t provide them access to a special classroom when that classroom doesn’t exist in their school. It doesn’t change their situation. Instead, it seems just trying to find ways to support them with extra tutoring, books to look at if applicable during the lesson, or making sure that they develop their adaptive and vocational skills as well seems to be a better solution. This is a question that I grapple with and will continue to think about. How do we help and labeling does not seem to be the answer.
This weekend we enjoyed a little break and went to Melinda’s Echtwel Tea Garden and some really yummy food. Plus, it is on the road to Machame and Kilimanjaro National Park, one of the park gates and starting points for a hike up the mountain.
I had some super yummy food with Sarah and Shay (an American I have met here) and such great fresh fruits and veggies. Check out my desert and the cucumber water.
I had a beet and goat cheese quiche and salad for lunch.
Here is the mountain on the way home. Click on the video to see it as we drive down the road. The sunflower field in the background is just lovely.