Through a variety of experiences I have come to believe that people can make anything look good on paper. The mere fact that it is written, does not guarantee that it represents what is actually occurring. I have learned this through perusing countless IEP’s and professional program flyers. No matter the document, whether these are well written or poorly written, have colorful photos or none at all- one thing is consistent: No matter what is written on that paper, a program is only as good as it is in reaching the unique needs of the individual which it serves.
I believe the same thing can be applied to research. If you have looked at my Bio, you know I am an a self- professed information junkie. I collect information, about all topics, and I love when it can be synthesized with what I already may know. In short, I have looked at a lot of research in my unending quest for information.
When we look back on the history of research pointing towards abilities or inabilities of people with Down syndrome and other working memory challenges, we have to acknowledge that the picture it paints is less than rosy, at times. The information that we come across may even prevent us from creating a foundation that allows us to believe in positive possibilities for our child’s or student’s future. Yet time after time, we have opportunities to come in contact with families, educators or individuals with disabilities themselves, who were able to overcome whatever it was that was written on paper and achieve goals that far surpass what anyone ever thought possible before they had an opportunity to do so.
To some extent, research is a product of what you believe you will find. Not that there are not opportunities where research has been conducted that find different than expected results. There are and they have to be acknowledged. However, research has its own systemic barriers, often delayed by many years from the onset of theory to publication, it cannot take into account all of the many factors that make a person who they are, that allow for them to experience the world, or to understand what is possible when the correct supports are in place.
Life happens quickly, change does not, and we do not really have time for the research to catch up. So I give you this challenge: We can’t ignore that research says what it says, and it will be interpreted the way it is interpreted, but what we can do is look what research gives us as a floor rather than a ceiling.
Instead of believing that the research shows us the enormity of what is possible, we can instead look at it as an entry point. When we look at research in this capacity it helps us to develop a platform of understanding towards what might be needed in order to reach the minimum of what might be possible, and allows us to continue to dream big and look forward to being part of new paradigms. If we look at research through this lens, that is something I can get behind, no matter how it is written.
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Kristin Enriquez has dedicated her life's work to children with learning challenges and helping people work together to realize each student's potential. She is the proud mother of 4 children, one of which has Down syndrome. She is not an experienced blogger, or a professional website creator, but she does "tell it like it is," is a collector of facts, and loves sharing the amazing experiences and knowledge that have found her along the way,
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