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Friedman: Mother may I?

BY IAN FRIEDMAN | AUGUST 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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A mother is uniquely special to each and every child. There is something comforting and satisfying in their maternal presence.

This fall, Leslie O’Hare officially opened her business, Your Campus Mom, for the University of Iowa marketplace.

This business is for students who have executive-functioning disorders or have very little time for themselves can have O’Hare perform any number of “mom” tasks they either find too stressful to handle or simply don’t have enough time in the day to do.

At its core, Your Campus Mom is a great service for persons with such disabilities as ADHD or anxiety who find living a daily independent life difficult.

The problem is that any UI student could ask her or his parents or guardian for the services provided by the business, and even for those students who require extra assistance, the business performs tasks that they would be better off learning for themselves in the long run.

People who want to use the service can have their backpacks or desks organized, laundry done, get assistance with registering for classes, or even be accompanied to doctor or counselor meetings.

Joseph Barrash, a UI clinical associate professor of neurology and psychology, agrees that while it’s important for people be supportive of those with executive-functioning disorders, doing things for them doesn’t really help their cause.

“Others can play an active role in supporting and assisting an individual to further develop their EF, but this comes from helping the individual to remain mindful of the strategies and techniques they learn, or think of on their own, to compensate — not by doing things for the such individuals but by helping them learn how to manage real-life demands for themselves” Barrash wrote in an email.

The professor said performing tasks for an individual with functioning disorders may be helpful as far as getting tasks done, but it does not help them learn to be self-sufficient.

There’s a saying that if you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you will have fed him for his whole life.

We should be concerned about helping individuals cope more effectively with their disabilities to ensure they can live independently for the rest of their lives. We should not perform tasks that are difficult for them, because it only delays the inevitable — that eventually, they will live on their own and have to fend for themselves.


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