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Year 3 - N° 123 – September 6, 2009
Matão, São Paulo (Brasil)


Carolina von Scharten - carolinavonscharten@yahoo.com

Cristina Maria Carvalho Delou: 

“The biggest challenge faced is to include children with special needs in the classrooms”

The educator talks about special needs children, the challenges
to include them in classrooms as well as its content on the
light of science and Spiritism


Cristina Maria Carvalho Delou (picture) is a Psychologist, Professor associated with the Faculdade de Educação da Universidade Federal Fluminense and Doctor in Education by PUC/SP. She was born and still lives in Rio de Janeiro, where she is part of the spiritist centre Grupo Espírita Fabiano. She is the Director of the Spiritist Education for Children and Youth Department. She came from a spiritist family, and has published several pieces in Education.   

O Consolador: Where did your interest for children with special needs come from? 

I always wanted to become a teacher. I found out quite early that children have different paces for learning. I started to teach at the centre Grupo Espírita André Luiz when I was 12 years old. It was done under the supervision of Icléa, who was a teacher responsible for the department at the time. Some children were able to tell the story of Jesus’ birth by the end of the year, while others were not even able to tell who Jesus was. The children I was teaching were about 5 to 6 years of age, and this marked me profoundly. When I decided to study Psychology, I decided to found out more about what was available for children with intellectual needs. I got to know APAE (Association of Parents of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in Brazil)  , Associação Pestalozzi, Centro Educacional Deolindo Couto, Clínica das Amendoeiras, etc. I graduated and soon got a Master in Education at UERJ (Rio de Janeiro State University).  

I was invited by Professor Marsyl to do research with Exceptional Children at that time. I accepted the invitation and realised this area is full of prejudice, just like with special needs children.  

O Consolador: How has the spiritist knowledge contributed for the work you are doing in this field? 

The spiritist knowledge is fundamental. The reincarnation, the law of cause and effect explain what science can not. Science can not answer what are the causes for physical differences. Some cases could be attributed to virus, such as blindness through syphilis or toxoplasmosis. Cerebral palsy could be attributed to birth injuries. Rubella (Measles) during the pregnancy, or the use of antibiotics in early infancy, could cause deafness. Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, but the real cause is unknown to science. Science can not answer still what are the causes of such a high difference between human beings in regards to intelligence. Several studies have been done in order to compare twin brothers who were raised together or separately. They wanted to evaluate the environment interference regarding the intellectual development. Nevertheless, all explanations found were accountable for just a few cases; not the total population. Neuroscience is advancing in regards with the study of the brain, which will hopefully lead us to more advance in the scientific knowledge.

O Consolador: What is the national and international way of dealing with children with special needs? 

There is a very interesting reality involving children with special needs. Historically, they were always excluded. Some were sent to specialised institutions. The truth is they were not able to develop socially or intellectually, since they were not challenged. Around 1990, UNESCO got together countries who owned money to the International Monetary Fund in Jomtiem, Thailand. Brazil was there and compromised to work on including children with special needs but never fulfilled it. In 1994, Brazil signed The Salamanca Statement and Framework for action on Special Needs Education when more than 300 participants representing 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain. This shows the Spiritual Guides who are responsible for changing our world into one of regeneration, inspired the incarnated beings to act determined to benefit those who need to incarnate in order to follow their evolutional process. Special needs children are incarnated spirits who are undergoing punishment, and who suffer from the constraint they experience, and from their inability to manifest themselves by means of organs which are undeveloped, or out of order. This is related on THE SPIRITS’ BOOK, questions 367-378. There is more related at THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM, Chapter 7. - BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT - Instructions from the Spirits: Mission of the intelligent person on Earth: 13. These spirits need to reincarnate and live in society in order to work on their abilities with us. This is related on THE SPIRITS’ BOOK, question 768. 

O Consolador: There have been great changes in this field. What could be also highlighted? 

I would highlight the change in terms used, which is quite important. Terms are always questioned and changed, in the hope of contributing to the decrease in the level of prejudice. Therefore, prejudice is the expression of our feelings of rejection in relation with the other. For this reason, until prejudice is there, no words will resolve the in satisfaction around the terms used. Kardec, who was a modernised Teacher, used up to date medical terms for his time which were spoken until the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, these words are considered prejudice nowadays. Mrs. Helena Antipoff, who played an important role in the development of a sociocultural perspective in educational psychology in Brazil, was the one who used the term “excepcional” (exceptional or special). She meant to say these were talented children with intellectual needs in the poor Brazil around 1930. Therefore, the lack of love for yourself and for one another linked with the rejection of the truths connected to the spiritual life show rejection feelings are still crystallised in humanity. This causes great sufferings for the families since until there is prejudice to the one who is different there will still be exclusion from the society. Rejection expresses discomfort or jealousy, which are both expressions of prejudice against special needs and exceptional children.

O Consolador: What do you think in regards to the inclusion of these children in the classrooms? 

This is the biggest challenge. School is a human right. We learned with the spirits that in our evolutional stage the moral progress comes from intellectual progress. Therefore, it does not happen immediately, as THE SPIRITS’ BOOK, question 780 tells us. We are incarnated and need to go to school for cognitive learning, since this will help us learn to differ from what is right to what is wrong. It will also avoid us delaying our evolution even longer. Based on these facts, how can the special needs children develop their cognitive capabilities if there is resistance for them to go to school? Their inclusion which was imposed by the Government has been unwanted at schools. The Teacher says he/she does not have the knowledge to include the children. They are not aware this resistance shows their prejudice to the one who is different from the rest of the class. Registering a special needs child at school does not guarantee their inclusion. This is a new concept which requires social change for the good of Exceptional and Special needs children.  

O Consolador: What is the most expressive spiritual orientation available in this topic? 

Most of these spirits made mistakes because they were bad orientated by their parents and teachers, or due to deception in loving relationships. This means they made mistakes because we induced them to it. They are not reincarnating as our sons, students, lovers, for us to help them reconstruct their path. This is a task of love, since it demands a specific training. It is very hard to change minds that are focused on hate, mental alienation or addictions fed for uncountable years. A lot of these spirits are reincarnated with great learning possibilities. There are people with Down syndrome who want to get married. They did not survive for longer than 15 or 16 years of age before. They were not able to learn how to read even, but now they make more use of this reincarnation. Individuals with Asperger syndrome are so talented they can use their talent to help improve life conditions in society. This is possible in both cases if people work together constructively to overcome social barriers. Those who constructed the barriers now need to destroy them. 

O Consolador: What kind of help can the spiritist centre offer to people with special needs and their families? We are aware the infrastructure available for these cases is quite poor. 

The spiritist centre can offer console to those who are angry and do not accept their children as they are. The centre can clarify and free the souls from their conflicts and feeling of guilt. It is quite common to see mothers who feel guilty; who are abandoned because they had a special need child. The spiritist centre should support them and show pedagogical methods the Divine Providence made available for us to overcome ourselves. Besides, the centres should welcome special needs people with respect and adequate the physical spaces for them: ramps, large doors, adapted bathrooms, spiritist books in Braille, audio books, Sign Language Interpreter, advancement in the learning techniques for children and adolescence, and also offer  work opportunity for everyone. Anyone can do well at the spiritist centre. The spiritist centre is the place to do well without exceptions. Every small advance the special need child or youth does means a lot for their spiritual progress. Our responsibility is to take an active part on this process. 

O Consolador: It is noticed this theme is not often spoken about in the spiritist area. Is there a lack of encouragement for the study of this topic? 

No. I believe there is a lack of awareness around this topic in our institutions. I have been speaking about this topic to spiritist teachers for a while. The feedback is the perplexity for not registering these questions in their minds earlier on. Besides that, there is a lot of prejudice from us who do not accept noise at the public meetings. Special needs children who are not used to come to a spiritist centre will make a lot of noise. Parents would soon realise their child is not welcome there. We need to overcome this old exclusion thought. Christ’ message needs to be remembered. We need to encourage our children and parents to get to know the spirit’s teachings, recognise themselves as sons of Good, with free will who need to forgive everyone who still shows prejudice. Let us remember many special needs children and youth suffer obsessive processes. The spiritist education, the healing, the power of prayer and the Gospel at Home are therapies available for them.  

O Consolador: Can you please add any other important comments in regards to this topic? 

I would like to remind indebt spirits have a fantastic opportunity to reincarnate and readjust. Although the advance of information and communication technologies allow us to recognise the level of intelligence of people with serious physical deficiencies, their incarnations have been very difficult due to the conditions they are living. We need to understand technology was also created to facilitate the communication with these individuals. A wheelchair is fundamental for someone with tetraplegia, so they can easily move. A portable computer is also essential for oral communication through ARP voice. Although registered at school, special needs or exceptional children and youth are still invisible to the teachers’ eyes. We need to talk more about this topic so we get more aware of the spirit’s reality. Books from André Luiz, Emmanuel and Yvonne Pereira bring great examples that could be transformed on case studies for public meetings and spiritist classes for children and youth.  

O Consolador: Can we please have your final words? 

I would like to finish by reinforcing the importance of study. Kardec and the other companions who brought us coherent teachings with the Codification should be carefully read: André Luiz, Emmanuel, Victor Hugo, and others who wrote through respectable mediums. Let us reflect on what the spirits revealed. We need to understand our role in the society nowadays. Spiritist Teachers should not preach materialism, by practicing exclusion in the classrooms since they were not thought different methodological and pedagogical to include children with special needs. We need to awake for this, since we are all working towards evolution and refinement. Let us have eyes to see and ears to listen. Let us learn to use our intelligence. Let us thank God for the talents we developed. We can use them to improve the quality of life of these wonderful people, who teach us everyday the importance of loving God above all and one another as we love ourselves.    



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