Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Against All Odds w/ #MountainClimbing as an #ExecutiveFunction Tool

How can I as a Special Educator take my understanding and application of best instructional practices and methods (pedagogy) to uncharted territory? 

How can I ensure I am still innovating for the benefit of my students?

What are the metrics to stay effective as an Executive Function Skills Coach to infants, kids and adults with executive function skill deficits, ADD/ADHD or autism?

Can athleticism become an analogy for the abstract and concrete challenges and obstacles individuals face on a daily basis?

Recently, a student I mentor and coach climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with his father. The teenager has a form of high-functioning autism referred to as Asperger's. Don't tell him though. He likes to act like that is no big sweat. He wants to climb the seven summits of the world and has just completed 1/7th of his journey by reaching his first summit with Kilimanjaro. His trip involved brutal cold, 12-14 hour days of hiking in thin air conditions and moving only at night to avoid slipping on melting ice during the sunny day. Did you read that well? The kid and his father climbed one of the world's tallest seven mountains in pitch darkness, under austere conditions, and with an unrelenting slow march upwards.

That just knocks the socks off for me. I am so impressed. The kid is like my hero and I am his mentor!

A person's life can be a lot like climbing that mountain under those conditions, it can be unrelenting, and many a times we may feel that we need to stop and quit. That we need to throw in the towel and give up our slow march upwards. Perhaps turn the television on and kick back and relax as a way to live. Maybe we are not moving upwards. Sometimes we can get disoriented if we don't have a foundation to rest on and get lost in the darkness. But one thing is for certain. One thing the boy's father said to me in passing rings to me. He said that they climbed in pitch black darkness with small little flashlights. They were part of a group of 15 that joined other groups that climb the mountain continously so that at night the effect is a string of lights. Hence, even in the black of night, with the howling dry wind, the thin air and the grueling steady focus on climbing, there were the lights of others to follow. It makes me think of one of Coldplay's new songs, called 'Lost.' The song is an anthem to moving forward in the face of adversity. There will be lights to guide us. We just have to look out for these.

In conclusion, Coach Bill got inspired by his student. Pushing the envelope means we have to travel outside that habitable comfort zone we know so well. Pushing the envelope means risk of failure and uncertainty, but it also means feeling like you are living with all your senses with the switch 'on.'

The teenage boy has inspired me to get over my hesitations and fear and start taking kitesurfing lessons so that I can offer it as an executive function skills teaching tool in my coaching. I am also moving out of my comfort zone by growing my coaching business in Puerto Rico right now, as well as Martha's Vineyard and Boston.  If you know of a star Special Educator (or related service professional) that can assist me with clients in these locations, as well as the NYC metro area and Connecticut, please have them contact me via the contact page at CoachBill.US One assistant per region only.

You don't know what you are capable of until you go beyond your horizon. My student and his father went over the horizon and came back together. It was a monumental feat that will positively impact the course of the boy's life by setting a tempo of accomplishement early on. It also sent a clear message to me to never underestimate what any one person is capable of regardless of the circumstances. 

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