Tag Archives: Post-secondary education

The Kindness of Strangers: Part One

I think what makes the kindness of strangers so powerful is the fact that it’s unexpected. We’re not looking for people we don’t know to go that extra mile for us, the way we hope family and close friends always will. And that’s why those small acts of kindness have the power to sweep us off our feet.

Take for instance, the incredible story forwarded to me this week by a friend at Carleton University. Confronting Asperger’s in the classroom is a lovely gem, wonderfully written, that tells the tale of several Carleton students who have Asperger’s Syndrome and how they, with their professor’s help, are navigating the maze of university life.

I was struck by two things right away: first I was moved by how a bit of extra effort on the professor’s part yielded such incredible dividends on the part of the student. The time he took to understand his student and adapt his style meant the difference between someone just ‘getting by’ or reaching their full potential. I was also struck by the reciprocal nature of his gift – how his kindness enriched him and opened his eyes to Asperger’s students and their particular needs and abilities.

I can imagine when dealing with students how difficult it must be to build relationships and how much easier it is to focus on things like ‘outcomes’ and ‘compliance’ and ‘socially acceptable behaviour.’ 

Now I See the Moon, by Elaine Hall

I’m reading a book right now called Now I See the Moon. It chronicles the journey of Elaine Hall, an L.A. acting coach for kids who adopts a young boy from Russia and soon finds out he is autistic. Her story is full of wonderful insight, starting with the book’s title, which finds its origins in a Japanese haiku:

 Barn’s burnt down –

now

I can see the moon.

That poem just makes me giddy with unexpected delight – how something you assume is awful is actually a hidden gift. Hall devoted years of her own working life to her son’s education and I was struck by her focus on meeting her son ‘where he lived,’ rather than trying to pull him into our neurotypical world. The people working with her son weren’t focused on changing his behaviours at first, they were focused on understanding those behaviours, matching them, and then using the resulting connection to build a relationship with her son. Once that relationship was established trust was able to grow and new doors opened.

When I read the article about the prof at Carleton University I felt the same way. He took the time to listen and learn, and the doors opened wide – not only for him, but for his students too.

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Filed under Books & articles, Celebrating Difference, Family

Atlantic Conference on Learning Disabilities: May 12 – 13



We can all benefit from a better understanding of learning disabilities.  Parents, teachers, psychologists, social workers and others who want to do more to help support youth living with learning disabilities are encouraged to attend the Atlantic Conference on Learning Disabilities, being held May 12-13, 2011 at Mount Saint Vincent University.

This conference will bring together more than 25 experts from the Atlantic region in the fields of psychology, education, justice and social work. Presenters will offer practical advice on how to support the learning, emotional and behavioural needs of youth with learning disabilities.

Here’s a sample of the workshops:

Navigating the School System: The Art of Advocacy for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Identifying LDs in the Classroom – And What to do About It

Supporting Social Skills Development

Making Connections: Successful Transitions to Post-Secondary Education for Students with Disabilities

Thriving, not Just Surviving: How Parents Can Help Children With LDs Achieve Future Success

From Goggledygook to G-Force: Teaching Science to Students with LDs.

Managing Executive Function Deficits: Helping Students Organize, Prioritize and Succeed

Recognizing Mental Health Issues in Youth

Keeping Students Connected: How Teachers Can Help Students Feel Good About School…And Why It Matters

Parenting 911: Managing Learning Disabilities at Home

How Learning Disabilities Affect Behaviour

Opening the conference will be well-known and well-loved author Sheree Fitch. “I’m thrilled to be a part of this conference, as a writer, a learner and a parent,” says Fitch. “We’re all on a huge learning curve. As educators, we need to be educated. As parents, we need to be informed. And as learners, we need to be supported.”  Sheree will also offer workshops during each day of the conference.  Registration for, “Tell Me About It!  Breathe, Stretch, Say and Write!” is limited to 20 participants per day.

Special guest, actor Danny Glover will make a keynote speech on Friday, May 13. He will discuss his experiences living with a learning disability, his views on education and his work as a social advocate in conversation with his friend and fellow actor Felix Justice.

Justice Merlin Nunn will also share his thoughts on the importance of supporting youth at risk in the community. Justice Nunn served as the Commissioner under the Nova Scotia Public Inquiries Act to the Nunn Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the death of teacher’s aide Theresa McEvoy.

Registration for the conference is now open.  Participants now have the option of registering for either one or two days of the conference. 

 

   For more information, please contact:

Rhonda Brown, Director of Communications – w (902) 465-4800 or cel (902) 483-7800

 

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