Friday, January 2, 2015

#CivicDuty -The #ExecutiveFunction Way Forward After #Ferguson #MichaelBrown / #edchat #education #specialeducation

What is won by fanning flames? Nothing. What is gained by winning arguments? Nothing. What is progressive about shooting people who have signed up to protect and serve others? Nothing.

Should people be taught lessons with the knuckles of a fist?

Is that what I teach? Or do I teach and model the ability to use your thinking side, rather than your reacting side? Impulse control, foresight, and emotional control are executive function skills after all.

 Should we show others how we feel by cutting them down with sharp words? Should we cut our own Mothers down with insults and yelling? Should we throw tantrums on scandalous mainstream news broadcasts and stomp on cars, burn and vandalize them because we are upset with a court ruling? 

No, the rule of law in a home, in a town or in our heart needs to be our gatekeeper. Just like it is very good to have police being a presence in the day and night across all American communities, it is important that children yield to their parents loving, kind, but firm guidance. Otherwise we raise people who are akin to feel they can bust a tantrum and be abusive when thing don’t work out the way they wanted. These people grow up and take their lack of rule-learning with them into adulthood. What dead-end metacognitive streets does this lead to?

The concept of ‘cop-hating’ for instance, is a metacognitive dead-end and is a common place-holder to help project, foster, foment, or help sustain general feelings of social disenfranchisement. Do we want to allow this kind of thinking in the garden of the minds and hearts of new generations of us?

What happened in Ferguson is tragic. It appears Michael Brown came in strong and barged out strong from that convenience store. Perhaps even stealing merchandise, perhaps not, but by the time he exited the store he definitely was using and displaying aggressive body language as if in fight mode. This is evident in the video footage. Few people were there to witness what happened. The use of deadly force should always be used as the most last resource. Everyone is someone’s boy, someone’s daughter, someone’s son, someone’s daughter. 

What if Michael Brown had been on the autism spectrum? How would that have changed the court ruling? What can we learn from this? Should we all be mainstream cop-haters?

No. We embrace them. We don’t vilify the police. They are the front line to keeping the rule of law. Peace is kept largely because of the deterrent of a ready force. We pay ourselves to do this. We police ourselves through our local police forces. Are we going to hate ourselves? Should we listen to those who slander police forces? 

How much does a cop 5 years in the force make in New York City? How many times a year are they ready to put their life on the line? A ready force that we throw a parade to every year to honor along with all the other community service members that stand ready 24/7 for us… Villify? Embrace? Villify? Embrace?

Embrace. Lovingkindness breaks hate always. President Obama could write a ‘memo’ whereby local police forces receive long term educational funding to train in standoff situations with individuals who have legal disabilities like, emotional disorder, or autism. 
If I had been an officer (with my Special Educator experience and education) I would have not approached Michael Brown but would have maintained a perimeter near him until back up came. A child or adult with an emotional disorder can also go ‘Hulk’ if they feel caged. The back up would up the ante towards that outcome. An officer skilled in Special Education behavior management approaches can do a lot more to safeguard the life of someone like Michael Brown. It is only a matter of time before an officer in a ‘hot spot’ American city or town encounters a grown black man who is on the autism spectrum, non-verbal and aggressive. Wandering is common for many people on the autism spectrum. Will they get hungry if they are lost? Will they go to a convenience store? Will they grab food and leave the store? Perhaps stomp out of the store if the clerk balks at them for stealing food. An officer would have no way of knowing that the young adult is on the autism spectrum. 

Strong hormonal surges of adrenaline are released that cloud the ability to use executive function skills well when we are in a frightened, fight or flight state. Such EF skills as behavior modulation, emotional control, self monitoring, impulse control (response inhibition) all start working differently in accordance to the new thought process map taking center stage. Michael Brown probably had an emotional disorder, a legal disability. If Brown had no weapon, did the officer get too close and place his own gun near Brown’s reach causing the temptation to try to grab it thereby giving the officer the ‘right’ to fire upon Brown?

I think that we can avoid a great deal of death through a focus of continuing to support our local officers in being able to receive training on how to deflate and approach the new kinds of situations they will increasingly find themselves in. Surely they already receive some form of this training already. We need to do more to support them to ensure they don’t fire by mistake on someone who has limited abilities to self-advocate for themselves. Discussions need to be had as to what kind of training is practical and can be integrated across the nation quickly.

A grass roots approach is for police chiefs to identify Special Educators who work in high schools with children who have anger management issues, emotional disorders, or similar. These Educators have a treasure trove of hands-on expertise on how to approach and deflate someone who is ‘off his rocker.’ I wonder if the life of Michael Brown, as well as the countless police officers that are gunned down each year across the nation could be averted by further strengthening our local police forces in practical ways that lead to less cops dying and less civilians dying.

Rules are meant to guide us as well as protect each others person. The rule of law brings peace because we know that there are law enforcement officials ‘out there’ focused on keeping us safe. Even if the system of law seems broken in some places we don’t throw it all out and pitch a tantrum. We don’t start attacking police forces as a whole. We don’t start attacking individual people either.

This is not about some mayor in NYC or about Michael Brown. This is not about Rodney King, or cop hating. This is not about justified social disenfranchisement by one ethnicity. It’s about how we work things out and how we deal with the ups and downs of life as we live ours. How we respond, act upon, and create something or nothing in our day. 

What do we have at the end of the day? Should we go throw a tantrum or make a plan and make something very great in 2015? Do we need to start a riot and get others to be haters? How dow we work things out? How do we want to teach the younger generations of us to be?

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