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OPINION: President Donald Trump struggles to listen and not interrupt. He needs help with that.

Please call for the presidential debate moderator to implement a behavior plan immediately for the current president while he is expected to quietly and respectfully wait for his turn to speak. Allowing the level of interruptive chaos we witnessed to continue in the next debate would be an insult to voters. The nation deserves to be able to hear what Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is saying.

President Donald Trump needs more than a muted microphone. He needs to be removed from earshot from the debate stage environment while Biden is taking his turn talking. A coach could help him focus on listening and self-management skills while Biden speaks. Then he could be welcomed back to the podium for his turn.

I am not joking. This is not about him acting "like a child" or us treating him like one. This is about behavior support for a person of any age who needs it.

Most children could socially and emotionally handle a debate with Biden, if we gave them the rules for the game, even though they lack specific knowledge of national leadership. I have worked in education for more than 20 years, and I know from experience that all but the most severely attention-challenged or emotionally disturbed students in preschool through high school are able to successfully take turns speaking when they are working in a group of two assisted by a skilled assistant to help moderate their work.

However, some kids and some adults cannot participate appropriately in paired conversation without additional behavior supports in place. This is a simple fact, and not a judgment about the worth of any person.

This is about recognizing and responding to Trump's severely compromised socio-emotional and psychological condition, and setting a good example for our nation. People at any age and of any social status who experience disabilities and/or neurological differences and/or mental illness can benefit from supports, and the people around them benefit too.

For example, I have a very poor natural sense of the passage of time, so I do best when there is a visual talk timer in place. If I were in a presidential debate, I would proudly bring my visual talk timer to help me recognize how much time remained in each segment and whether I went over time or if my debate partner went over time. I would let the moderator know I do best with a quick verbal reminder when one minute is left. I would also ask for another reasonable accommodation, for folks to wear name tags at the meetings before and after the debate, because I have facial recognition challenges. I hope the nation would understand.

It is high time we all start acknowledging and talking openly about our own disabilities, and the disabilities of people in positions of leadership. In many cases, there are simple, inexpensive accommodations that let everyone work together more easily.

Charlotte Lumae is a private tutor and former substitute teacher in the Forest Grove and Hillsboro school districts. She lives in Forest Grove.


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