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A lifeline for struggling students

A lifeline for struggling students

Thrown into the ocean without a life vest. That’s how it felt.  I’m not talking about learning how to swim. I’m talking about what it was like to enter the world of education. 

My entire world changed in 2011, when I started working for an afterschool program in Los Angeles, where I was born and raised. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked with children in different roles, including as a special education teacher assistant. There was no training that could have prepared me for the kids I would encounter. I wasn’t prepared for my first autistic student, or the first one with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I had to learn on the job how to best serve and teach them in order for them to thrive and succeed. 

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Why does this matter? For many families with a neurodivergent child, this is a familiar experience. A neurodivergent child is one who doesn’t meet the expectations for their age or grade, showing what would be considered delays or differences in speech development, cognitive processing, and social skills. These differences appear in a range of ways– in context of a developmental disorder such as autism or down syndrome, or as language and processing differences that show up when a child has trouble understanding what they read, how to make sense of words on a paper, or in their mathematical skills. 

Photo: Corina De Leon Perez

There are many children who struggle in school, and along with them their community of parents, caregivers, teachers and friends. There is no handbook or fixed answer to handle these challenges. It takes a lot of learning through trial and error, seeking help, and educating yourself. This is what you’ll find here. My hope is to walk alongside you to help you learn how to navigate and take practical steps towards helping a neurodivergent childt. Maybe you were told there isn’t much you can do to help, and you’re wondering what to do.

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Let’s start here: what are your questions? Are you trying to help a child struggling with reading? Have you wondered what you can do at home or what to buy to help them improve when they’re not at school? We all have come across at least one child who has floundered in one way or another, and maybe that was you when you were younger. Consider this the corner where you will be able to turn to. Maybe you want to know what autism spectrum disorder is because you know someone who is autistic. Maybe you’re a mother of a child who has trouble with distance learning because they really struggle with reading, and you don’t know what you can do or what resources are available to you. You’re not alone. This will be the place that hopefully, for just a few minutes, you can learn a way to propel a child forward in the direction of confidence and success, while you learn about different learning disabilities and conditions that affect a child, and how they experience school and the world.

You can email Corina your questions here:

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