What Is Spoon Theory And Why Should We Teach It?

It used to be that when someone with a disability was present, everyone around them would try not to acknowledge it. For a long time, this treatment of people with disabilities created a barrier to understanding. But how can you know what it’s like to have a disability when you don’t have one? How can lawmakers, employers, and school administrators make policies that help people with disabilities if we never talk about it?

One breakthrough in the conversation around disability is Spoon Theory. Learn what Spoon Theory is and why we should teach it in schools.

The Origins of Spoon Theory

Spoon Theory was developed by Christine Miserandino, a blogger with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. One day, Miserandino was talking with a friend and trying to explain how her disability affects her daily life when she came up with an easy but surprisingly powerful metaphor involving spoons.

Imagine that when you wake up, you have 10 spoons. Each spoon represents a finite amount of energy you can spend on tasks like brushing your teeth, cooking breakfast, and going about your day. For people with disabilities, it often feels like they’re living with fewer spoons than everyone else. Sometimes, a task requires more spoons for a person with a disability than it does for other people.

spoon theory

Spoon Theory Helps Kids With Disabilities Communicate

For kids with disabilities, Spoon Theory is an amazing tool that can help them understand how they feel and communicate those feelings to others. Kids can say “I feel low on spoons” to convey that they are reaching the end of their energy levels. Spoons are a kid-friendly metaphor that everyone can understand.

Spoon Theory Is for Everyone

While it’s important to acknowledge the origins of Spoon Theory, that doesn’t mean you should only teach it to kids with disabilities. All kids can benefit from learning that they have finite levels of energy, and they should learn to listen to their bodies to protect themselves from exhaustion. Plus, when everyone knows Spoon Theory, it helps normalize living with a disability.

Spoon Theory is a fantastic tool that we should teach in schools to help students with disabilities. Not only does it empower kids with disabilities, but it also helps them connect with their peers and teachers.

Gabriella is a licensed educational psychologist and a mental wellness advocate. She specializes in conducting psychological, cognitive, educational, social-emotional, and functional behavioral assessments for children K-12. These assessments are used to identify and diagnose educational and mental health issues, such as ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, and emotional disabilities. She also provides individual and group counseling, crises counseling services, and parent consultation and training. She lives and works in New York.