On November 13, 2013, I did a webinar for the organization Dyslexic Advantage, founded by Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide. As noted on their website, ”Dyslexic Advantage is a 501c3 non-profit charity that seeks to create a world where the strengths and talents of dyslexic people are celebrated and where every dyslexic child and adult can flourish in school, work, and life.”
My webinar focused on the concept of neurodiversity and how this paradigm-shifting model can be used to help children and adults diagnosed with dyslexia achieve greater success in school and life. I also included reflections on ADHD, since this diagnosis often accompanies the dyslexia diagnosis. Some of the tools and strategies that I shared were taken from my book Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Achieve Success in School and Life. Other tools and resources not in the book were also presented (such as the not-yet-on-the-market learning material – Tiblo – which are 3-D interlocking blocks where phonemes, sight words, sentences etc. can be recorded into each block, and then combined to form words, sentences, stories etc.).
For those who would like to watch this webinar, it has been made available on You Tube by the Drs. Eide. To watch the video click on this link.
For those who would like to have access to the handouts for the webinar, they are available on Slide Share. They include a 165-item Neurodiversity Strengths Checklist that can be filled out by parents, teachers, and others as a means of assessing an individual’s strengths, talents, and abilities. To download the handouts click on this link.
I want to thank Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas about helping students and adult learners who have been diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, using the framework of neurodiversity. I recommend that you check out their website, read their book The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, and subscribe to their newsletter, which highlights new research on the strengths of dyslexia, profiles of successful dyslexics, and offers strategies that can help anyone overcome reading and writing disabilities.
It’s time that we rejected the prevalent ”deficit-oriented” paradigm used in special education, and embrace a new approach based on ”diversity.” We don’t say that a calla lily has ”petal deficit disorder” or that an orchid has ”dysleafia.” We appreciate the beauty that they have to give to the world. Similarly we ought to honor and celebrate the fascinating neurological differences that people have as a part of their biological birthright. These are differences which add to the richness of life!