Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Cheryl Hein on Parenting a Child with Disabilities

Radio Interview: 28 August 2013

I interviewed Cheryl Hein on "Parenting a Child with Disabilities" on 28 August 2013. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

What are some of the rewards and challenges of parenting a child with disabilities? How should parents navigate family dynamics, education, and social interactions? How can parents do right by their disabled child, as well as themselves and other family members?

Cheryl Hein is the mother of nineteen year old boy-girl twins, one of whom, her daughter, was born with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism. In choosing the approaches for educating their twins, Ms. Hein and her husband considered a number of key values, such as effective education, opportunities for intellectual and social enrichment, family dynamics, and, as they got older, their kids' preferences; practical considerations such as cost and logistics were also weighed. Ms. Hein became heavily involved in understanding and navigating public school special education services and other available private and government programs for educating her children, and in advocating for the choices she believed were right for them. As she has lived with the daily and long range parenting challenges, she has also thought deeply about matters of family, private and government support for the education, care and keeping of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Ms. Hein received a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA. She has managed multi-million dollar R&D programs for private industry, state and federal governments for more than 30 years, in settings as broad as manufacturing, product development, private research laboratories and university research organizations. Most recently, as managing director of the UCLA Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT) and in private entrepreneurial efforts, she has focused on fostering advances in technologies for education and training based on combining findings from the science of learning with interactive computer technologies such as simulation and games to create learning systems that align effectively with how our brains work.

Tags: Abortion, Adult Children, Children, Disability, Disability, Education, Independence, Parenting


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  • Duration: 1:15:47
  • Download: MP3 File (26.0 MB)

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About the Podcast

The topics covered in this episode were:
  • About her daughter's developmental disabilities
  • More about apraxia of speech
  • The pregnancy
  • Heart surgery as an infant
  • Prior experience with Downs Syndrome
  • Response to the heart surgery
  • The diagnoses of apraxia of speech and autism
  • Early education via UCLA
  • Lessons learned from UCLA
  • Preschool: keeping the kids together
  • The sibling relationship
  • Elementary school: full inclusion
  • Speech development and reading
  • Her effect on other kids in the classroom
  • Middle school and beyond: segregated special education classes
  • A better education: private schools, homeschooling, and Montessori
  • Improvements in education, medicine, and home life for developmentally disabled kids
  • The dangers of reducing the person to the disability
  • Grief for the child, love for the child
  • Plans for the future, after school ends
  • Advice for parents of disabled children

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.

From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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