Thursday, December 6, 2012

i am intelligent by Peyton Goddard *****

What is the relationship between mind and body ... between intelligence and communication? Consider Steven Hawkings, Dolphins, and Peyton Goddard. Peyton Goddard can not control her body (like Steven Hawkings) and cannot speak (like a dolphin),  I Am Intelligent is her memoir written with the help of her mother and FC (Facilitated Communication which uses a keyboard and an assistant).

The book's first half (prior to FC) chronicles the first  20+ years of Peyton's life. I found the  intentional and unintentional abuse so horrific that I needed to skip over parts of the first seven chapters, often reading as little a one or two sentences before turn to the next page and the next page again.

However, interspersed with these incidents of incompetence, insensitivity, and violence were also the efforts of her family and dedicated teachers to help Peyton. She was variously diagnosed (labeled) with aphasia, autism, low intelligence, communication deficits, and a variety of other psychological and neurological disorders. She was treated by a variety of amateurs and professionals and a pharmacopeia of medications including: Tegretol, Clonidine, Lithium, Miralax, Colace, Paxil, and antibiotics.

In contrast, the second half of the book (starting with Chapter 8) was inspiring and I often found tears, joyous tears, streaming down my cheeks, as I read this part.

On the one level, this book is a condemnation of the worst and a showcase for the best in special education and the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). On another level, it is about the dedication and challenges of parents with children in this system.

However, it also raises such important question about intelligence and humanity ... enough so that it can be read by anyone who thinks about the human condition.

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