Over-Reliance on assistive technology? The program today looks into EQAO, Assistive tech. in todays classrooms and if it is helping our students who are labeled with learning disabilities. Take a listen below. www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-45
I emailed them and hopefully I can go on air to speak about my experience. Read the email below to learn a bit about my childhood and young adult experience living and learning with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia and ADHD.
Very interesting show, on today’s (October 5, 2021) Ontario Today. I'm glad that this topic is getting air time. I am a dyslexic (3D’s + ADHD) female young adult, first generation Canadian. I am now a teacher and literacy specialist who has opened my own practice to help families in Northwestern Ontario get access to literacy help in-person and digitally. I would love the chance to speak on air about my experience as a child as part of the crop of students that are neurodiverse and went through the Ontario education system between 1996- mid 2010's. Just when technology was making an appearance in accommodations at school, and as now an educator working with students and families on their learning journey. These students are families from indigenous Canadian, settler Canadian, and new Canadian backgrounds. Below is a little about me and my journey.
As a child I wasn’t taught how to read until grade 6 and was illiterate in 2 languages. I come from a immigrant family where we spoke Spanish at home. I was lucky enough to have a tenacious mother and father who advocated for me diligently and after trial and error of about 4+ different intervention programs found the one that worked for me. I don’t know how they did it, as we did not have a lot of money, but I attended intensive extra school during my lunch times during grade 6 for about 1 year and went from illiterate to literate (able to decode and encode English) in that time. Of course during regular school I got mercilessly bullied, as it was middle school after all, and I would go somewhere else during lunch. In the end it was worth everything, the only reason I am where I am today is because of that program. The school system scared me throughly and I still deeply hate school and writing, funny that I have now hopped the fence teach. I repressed and internally blocked up my experience for the last 20 years and am only now able to start poking at that festered scar left in my soul. A lot of the time the mental health piece is ignored when someone is labeled with a learning disability, I want to mention that seeking help does not mean your weak, it does come back to haunt you over and over again as an adult, be it through Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria or Depression or Anxiety. I personally have been building the courage to seek help over the last year and a half… I have yet to actually go out an do it though, I’ll get there.
I went through university and I still have challenges with writing, reading, and spelling. I vowed to never let another student fall through the cracks and experience what I did growing up. This lead me to become a teacher and outdoor educator. I fuse teaching literacy and the outdoors as well as movement into my lessons. This gives the knowledge several places to be recalled in the brain when the child is asked to read, write or spell they can recall the information for several places. I opened up a clinic in Thunder Bay, Ontario called Naturally Literate in COVID to meet the needs of the students in Northwestern Ontario. I am now a teacher and Literacy specialist teaching students with learning challenges how to read through systematic system based approach using phonemic awareness training and the science of reading. I now spend my days working with students digitally and in person who are neurodiverse as well as advocating for families and sharing resources with other Canadian families nationally.
But what happens once a student is finished the school system and enters the adult world?
There is a need for conversation surrounding “What now”. “What now”, a student has gone through the educational system and or post-secondary, the supports that we given have now elapsed or were given and the individual was never shown how to incorporate it into their daily lives. A lot of the time there is this mysticism told to students and families that when your finished school and become a “real adult” things will get better/easier but what if that is not the case?
For example I gave up on math as the numbers move on me and I still get migraines when trying to do my budgets. The amount of anxiety I deal with when entering e-transfer or doing online billing is exhausting as I have in the past sent money where I reversed the numbers, even though check the document many times and pressed sent. Only to be horrified when instead of $100.00 leaves my bank account, $1000.00 goes instead. What if we taught students math’s correctly, systematically, with specific cumulative processes? Would that be my reality? I use technology daily to help me with calculations and am deeply grateful for it.
All this to say that neurodiverisities don’t magically go away; at times the strategies one’s learnt in school to help or assistive technology fall short.
For example when one is emotionally triggered, tired, hungry their neurodiveristy makes a bold reappearance. Of course these reappearances occur at a super inopportune time, like a board meeting where one is presenting; all of a sudden it didn’t matter you spent the last 15 hours prepping, when someone asks you a question you can not answer it. Your mind goes blank. You look bad in front of your peers/boss/sponsor, they doubt you even prepared… internally you are blasted back to all those damaging experience you had at school where you were told you didn’t know/ were stupid/ couldn’t ____ / Shouldn’t try because ____/ etc….
If we, as a society, eliminate those damaging formative moments when people are children learning how to read by implementing research based systematic approach to reading, writing, and spelling English then who is to say what we as a society will accomplish.
I would love the opportunity to speak on Ontario Today to chat about, my experience, what teaching in the school system is like, what teaching privately has given my students, and what it is like for an adult with 3D’s + ADHD working in this new world of Technology assisted life.
I am looking forward to speaking with you. I can be best reached at by email or phone. firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-707-3674