Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting To Know Me.....

Early on in my teaching career I worked in an institution
 for emotionally challenged children and adults.
It is a government-run provincial institution. 

After two years of working
 in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, we moved to the city of Halifax,
the capital of Nova Scotia.

Back in those days it was no problem finding teaching jobs especially 
ones teaching students with 'special needs'. When I got this new job
I knew it would be challenging and I had the energy and the desire
to work with this population (for reasons I may get to in this
'Getting To Know Me' series).

                                       So, my teaching position was to work with children from
the ages of 5 to 12 years of age.

These kids were all 'live-in' patients of this hospital.
They were there for either evaluation and/or treatment,
and a few actually lived there for a while until a proper
placement could be found.

The facility I worked in was brand new and a separate building
from their residence and also from the adult hospital.
This institution is situated on a beautiful piece of land 
overlooking Halifax Harbour and it actually slopes 
down to the water.

I had about eight children the first year. And a few 
I will never forget for different reasons.

One little fellow was autistic. Back then in 1977
autism was not getting the attention it is getting
today. It was a 'condition' that was treated like a number
of other 'disorders' the mentally challenged.

I know these terms are not used today and I have
witnessed a number of 'labels' and their evolution
over the years.

Suffice to say that this boy displayed all the 
stereotypical behaviors of a person with autism.
He was about 9 or 10 years old and wore a helmet
to protect him from the impacts he would 
self-inflict.....he was what we called
a 'head-banger'.

He was a gentle little boy most of the time
but I was soon to discover that he didn't
like his routine being all.

Every morning he would leave his residence
and head up to the school building like
the rest of the kids did.

Only thing was he would make his way up the path
going/facing backwards. He would almost go at a 
joggers pace running backwards all the way up
and into the school, down the hall, into the classroom
and to his desk....backwards. And, he was good at it!

As I had mentioned, this was all new to me and I was
in the learning mode as well. So, one morning I
wanted to change my classroom around a bit
and proceeded to rearrange the desks and tables.

Everything looked better in my mind...until
this boy was on his way into the newly arranged 
room and couldn't find his desk where it was 'supposed'
to be. He began to SCREAM and cry. I didn't know
immediately what was wrong with him until
he made it perfectly clear through his arm movements
and gestures that he wanted his desk to be where it
always had been....up near the blackboard.

I moved it back as fast as I could and he settled down
and I learned something too that day.

This fellow couldn't/wouldn't speak and he kept
pretty much to himself. Most of the time all I could 
do with him was to let him draw. He would make
these incredible and very intricate designs
either on paper or on the blackboard. And all 
freehand. He so enjoyed doing these.

The hospital setting took a little getting used to after teaching
in a public school setting. I was now part of a medical team
that worked together to determine what behavior therapy or 
treatment was best for each individual.

For this little guy one of the behavior therapies used to 
discourage his head-banging was to use a 'cattle prod'
on his arm whenever he hit his head.

All team members were involved in this so that there would be
consistency and therefore complete elimination of this behavior.
Or at least that was the aim.....and it was well-intentioned.
Remember it was 1977.

The 'shock' from one of these things was obvious to anyone
who tried it out. You knew it was uncomfortable and got your
attention. I immediately did not like this 'therapy'. Something
just didn't sit right with me about using this on a child, let
alone anybody.

As a 'team member' I had to record each time he would hit his head
or self-inflict in any other  way. I also was expected to use this
device (like a large wand) on his arm.

I felt that there was nothing else I could do but comply.
So the first time he self-inflicted I gave him a shock.
(Even saying this and writing this now makes me feel ashamed
that I did this.)

I felt even worse for him after he started to cry and sob.
 It was like I had betrayed him and that was what hurt him the most.

Again, a learning situation for me. From that first 'treatment'
till the end of the year, I fudged the program chart by writing down
false instances and treatments. It was all I could do to keep my job 
and not have to inflict any pain on this innocent child.

This little fellow was there for the year and never stopped 
self-inflicting. He was placed in another institution
and I have no idea what became of him.

The two years I spent at this hospital pretty well drained the energy
out of me. I knew I could not spend another year there. 
It was far too demanding emotionally for me.

We moved to Vancouver, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada
that summer. And you know what job I was offered in a school-setting?

One for emotionally disturbed children! I declined and started painting houses 
and doing gardening to make a living....along with substitute teaching.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The View From Here

Halifax is a small city compared to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal.
And I am so thankful for that.
In the centre of peninsular Halifax there is a hill.
And on that hill there is an old British Fortress.

The name of that fortress is Citadel Hill  (click).
It is a National Historic Site and is one of Canada's National Parks.

So, on Wednesday afternoon we decided to drive up one side of this hill
and down the other side.
These are a few photos of views from the top.

A few of the many old brick buildings in the city.

You can see Halifax Harbour and that is Dartmouth across the other side.

The Town Clock on the side of Citadel Hill.

A view north.

The ferry making its way across the harbour.

Some construction....

Facing south looking to the mouth of the harbour.

The MacDonald Bridge.

Roof tops....

Halifax is noted for all its trees and these are starting to leaf-out.

That long brick building is Citadel High School 
which replaced my old high school, St.Patrick's.
And I was glad Ron was driving so I could click away.

Sophie enjoyed her view and the ride around the top of the hill.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mid-Week Zen Moment

Happened across this tiny waterfall last week.

This normally dog-frenzied watering-hole,
was artfully transformed by the simple 
 placement of a small leaf
by some quiet soul.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Bloomin` Time We Had!

We are having a very wet and overcast May this year.
In fact, it has been such for ten straight days.

So, when the sun actually made an appearance on Sunday,
out we were taking as many 'blossom' photos as we could.


Butterfly Magnolia.

Other yellow tulips.

A French hybrid tulip.

Daffodil peaking through the Lace Japanese Maple.

Tulip reaching for that elusive sun.

Reaching up.....

A very pretty tulip from a side view....

And from the top.....

'Open-house' for this tulip......just before the petals dropped.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Contemplative Monday

The following is taken from: 'Heart Advice, Weekly Quotes From Pema Chodron'


"I try to practice what I preach; I'm not always that good at it, 
but I really do try.

The other night, I was getting hard-hearted, closed-minded,

and fundamentalist about somebody else, 
and I remembered this expression

that you can never hate somebody if you stand in their shoes.

I was angry at him because he was holding such a rigid view.

In that instant I was able to put myself in his shoes and I realized,

"I'm just as riled up, and self-righteous and closed-minded
about this as he is. We're in exactly the same place."

And I saw that the more I held on to my view, the more polarized

we would become, and the more we'd be just mirror images of
one another----

two people with closed minds and hard hearts who both think

they're right, screaming at each other. 

It changed me when I saw it from his side,

and I was able to see my own aggression and ridiculousness."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Eclectic Tastes

Couldn't think of a more appropriate piece of music for this time of year.
For those of you who can get close enough to a bumblebee,
you will see/hear that this music suits them well.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Morning Post

A picture album for the week that was.....

Lone tulip in our garden.

Japanese Moon Maple beginning to display it's leaves.

Our 'Elizabeth' Butterfly Magnolia is also opening up.

 As is this blossom on the 'Teddy Bear' rhododendron.

Butterfly Magnolia blossom shedding it's winter coat.

Wild blueberry blossoms at the park.

Foggy scene at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax.

Colour is more concentrated in fog, don't you think?

Closing in on Copper Beech leaves.

Fog can't and won't stop this sailor.

And away they go....

Very Zen waterfall at the park.

A Chickadee near a native Bilberry tree in the park.

Very friendly Chickadee.

Fresh spring growth.

A view into the Halifax Public Gardens.

Through the iron fence.....

Very patient Sophie.

Colourful homes in Halifax....

On the way to bridge to head back to the eastern shore.

Related Posts with Thumbnails