There comes a time when you pick up a book and it just grabs you. 

Such a book for me recent­ly has been “The Right to be Human” by Edward Hoff­man, a biog­ra­phy of Abra­ham Maslow, revised and updat­ed in 1999. The title alone hooked me while brows­ing a church fundrais­ing sale when I was in Eng­land in the spring. It has been beside my bed since then. 

I pulled it out of the stack, by chance, a cou­ple of weeks ago and it has me hooked. As ever, I start­ed with the index and opened the book some­where about page 150! Now that it’s near­ly fin­ished I thought I would start at the beginning! 

Those of you who have been stu­dents of psy­chol­o­gy will long since have known Maslow’s name but for me his ideas have been enlight­en­ing and I am encour­aged to know that some­one was writ­ing 50 years ago about the ideas that I’ve devel­oped dur­ing my life­time — with­out read­ing his work! 

None of us is unique in our ideas, usu­al­ly some­one has thought of such things before and come to the same con­clu­sions, it’s just that no one per­son may have come along and com­bined dif­fer­ent ideas.

Maslow was a great believ­er in com­ing up with new ideas. Cer­tain­ly his ideas are still stud­ied and val­ued today. He also believed that it was impor­tant to study ‘good human beings’.

I felt sure there was anoth­er book in my col­lec­tion that had quot­ed Maslow’s work and I’d just not reg­is­tered the name or view­point. I was right! Anoth­er favourite book of mine (one I should have read before and dur­ing my son­s’ ear­ly years) is “Grow­ing Up Gift­ed” by Bar­bara Clark.

The title can be mis­lead­ing because what she sug­gests are the needs of the gift­ed are in fact the needs of every child, not just one you pre­sume will be gift­ed. Of course every par­ent hopes their child will be ‘gifted’ but how can you tell when they are newborns? 

I also believe that many chil­dren are more able than we know BUT they are often pro­found­ly neglect­ed in their ear­ly years. I have come to the con­clu­sion that chil­dren on the autism spec­trum are most­ly high­ly and dif­fer­ent­ly intel­li­gent; they have gifts and tal­ents we don’t yet know about, are neglect­ed in the ear­ly years and their devel­op­men­tal delays only come to light when they are 2 or 3 years old and by then it’s vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble to assess their IQ by typ­i­cal methods.

I was very moved yes­ter­day to see on TV a young cou­ple with Down’s Syn­drome who had decid­ed to mar­ry – not some­thing either set of par­ents could have fore­cast when they had a new­born with such a diag­no­sis and were advised ‘by expert­s’ to insti­tu­tion­alise their child. These two young peo­ple were so accom­plished. Each set of par­ents, sep­a­rate­ly and from dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al and eth­nic back­grounds, had done a remark­able job of par­ent­ing these fine young peo­ple. Why shouldn’t all chil­dren be par­ent­ed that way? 

Maslow was in the fore­front in think­ing about the fac­tors that cause peo­ple to devel­op high­er order think­ing skills, their cre­ative abil­i­ties and oth­er fine qual­i­ties like altru­ism, which bring a supe­ri­or qual­i­ty of life to those they meet.

We all know such peo­ple. I am for­tu­nate to have had a father and two sons who fit that pro­file and who lead the way by example.

My oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op my own abil­i­ties have real­ly come through my sons. By edu­cat­ing them at home and watch­ing and guid­ing their devel­op­ment I have dis­cov­ered my call­ing, if you will.

I’ve become pas­sion­ate about chil­dren under 3 because I now realise that by being some­what uncon­ven­tion­al in my mode of edu­cat­ing my sons and them in turn con­stant­ly being self-taught in just about every­thing they do, there’s some­thing spe­cial going on here and it’s root­ed in our house!

It is by read­ing Bar­bara Clark’s book and Maslow’s biog­ra­phy that I am encour­aged to pull togeth­er all my notes of past years and build them into more than just a blog!

I’ve made the connection!