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By Alice J. Wexler (auth.)

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Extra info for Art and Disability: The Social and Political Struggles Facing Education

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Through play children learn the serious lesson that rules benefit the group as well as oneself, and the much needed empathy so lacking in self-absorbed children with ADHD, E/BD, and ASD. Play is therefore essential in the social and cognitive development of children, as we will see in chapter four. Learning disabilities (LD) reveal how play is essential in the forming of categories and classifications in the concrete operations stage, the foundation on which all new learning, including abstract thought, depends.

As children with LD get older, the learning that is normally achieved in preschool must be now framed in a much more sophisticated way so as not to be demeaning. We can do this by embedding classification and categorization in more sophisticated art projects, described more thoroughly in chapter four. Play is also important in tapping children’s imagination. Not surprisingly, children who are unable to play usually have imaginations that are escapist, idiosyncratic, and self-absorbed. For example, many children with ADHD are unable to distinguish reality from fantasy that make their attempts at play prohibitive to their peers.

The philosophy of the Reggio Emilia preschools of Italy is based on—among the 26 Art and Disability work of many psychologists and educators—the sociocultural perspective of Vygotsky (1986). They suggest that adults need to be present without being intrusive so that children might learn from socialization with their peers. “They must learn to teach nothing to children except what children can learn by themselves” (Malaguzzi, 1996, p. 66). David Henley (1999) simply says let the child teach you.

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