Does Learning Only Go in One Direction?

Now that I am finally, consistently, back on my feet and able to work after my accident, I’ve been focused on rebuilding my business. While recovering, I pondered whether I should seek traditional work (paid, scheduled, with benefits), or continue on with my private practice. Each has benefits and challenges.

Regardless of the type of work—paid or not—there is an interview process. AS I think about my unique skills as a dietitian, a nutrition coach. I realize that in the process of becoming a knowledgeable advocate for my son, who has Down syndrome, autism, and is nonverbal, I’ve have developed invaluable skills for just about any situation. Here are a few examples:

  • Behavior as communication. I am an expert at dissecting circumstances to uncover why something is happening. Rather than worrying about how many M&Ms someone eats, I want to know what need was met by their consumption.
  • Positive Behavior Support or looking for the win-win scenario. Why get all sweaty and sore jogging if it isn’t enjoyable or has no tangible reward? Find another option!
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Unlike my early years as a dietitian, learning food preferences from someone who has just had a stroke is much easer. Make a communication board and follow eye-gaze!
  • Accommodations and modifications. Learning is a very individual thing. Some people need to hear information, some need to see information, some need to feel information, and others need to experience it in every way possible before it sinks in. Everyone can learn!
  • Learning is a celebration. I thought I knew how to do this until I started nutrition coaching and education with teens and adults with Down syndrome. I’ve never had more fun watching a skill sink in. The joy in understanding what to do to choose healthful living is contagious.

Patience, persistence, and praise are key to any nutrition coaching and essential in my role as Mother. My children, including my son with Down syndrome, taught me invaluable lessons and nurtured priceless skills. It may sound backwards, but is it really? Do the concepts we learn only go in one direction–from the general public to those with disabilities? Or can we learn important skills from people with disabilities and modify the concept to fit our lives, too (the reverse direction)? I think we all learn from each other.

BTW: I am hosting a free webinar to start 2011!

Create Your Vision for Your Family

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Read more about it here:

Register Today!

About Joan

I am first, and foremost, the mother of two amazing young men. One of them has Down syndrome, Autism, Celiac Disease, and uses few words. I focus my work on providing support, training, and creating tools that will create quality lives, quality health, and connected community for him and his peers. It's true. We can all have a quality life, with quality health, and connected communities in which we thrive. Let's go on this walk together! You can learn more about me and my work at
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5 Responses to Does Learning Only Go in One Direction?

  1. Joan-
    I enjoyed your post and agree that we all learn from each other. No two individuals are alike and add to that a myriad of cognitive, behavioral, &/or physical challenges.
    If we listen and listen well I believe our children and those we serve will show us the way and teach us something about ourselves along the way.

  2. Joan says:

    It’s all about the listening, isn’t it?

    Listening is a very important skill to develop, and for many people, it requires all our senses.

    thanks Paula!

  3. Pingback: Supplements – De Ja Vu? | Practical Wisdom: Phronesis

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