Presenting on Experience, by Linda Messbauer

I guess I started to wonder about “experience” when I worked at New York’s Willowbrook State Institution in the seventies. Geraldo Rivera, news reporter, did an undercover story exposing the terrible conditions at this facility (the largest in the nation, with over 5,000 children).

I began working there as part of a Team to help change conditions after the Parents took the State to court. As some of you are aware this led to the de institutionalization process across the country. Working in this environment was challenging and the children here seemed “numb” to the happenings around them. Mostly they were self-stimulating or self- injurious or aggressive and their eyes were glazed over as if they never saw anything.

As you walked by there were no responses and even if you spoke to them… nothing… As I started to work individually with them if I got up and about 18” away from their face and brought in a item or object with me, I would start to get a focus, a response and sometimes a smile, I would mirror them and make faces and we would “get into it” as they use to say. As I realized I was sharing an experience of play, I began then to think about the word, "Experience".

See the article Here.