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Why does it have to be so hard? (Or, we are in dire need of educational reform!)

I must admit I am feeling irate and exhausted.

Once again, the educational system has got me down. The never-ending need to advocate for my neurodivergent children over and over again for the last 20 years has been beyond frustrating. It makes me want to scream and bang my head against the wall (probably because I can’t bang someone else’s head into it..don’t worry, I won’t do either- but I am feeling that revved up inside.)

For you folks directing educational policy or educators; here are a few reminders for you:

  • The educational system is in dire need of complete reform; it is outdated and does not prepare kids for today’s workplace or to succeed in society.
  • Kids, especially young kids, are not meant to sit on their bums for hours a day. It’s against their nature.
  • If they move around a lot or daydream, it doesn’t automatically mean they have ADHD. Perhaps they are simply “being kids.” Or are bored or lack motivation because they are being forced to sit and comply rather than explore and play. Or perhaps they are experiencing sensory or emotional dysregulation.
  • Engagement, respect, and interactive and fun learning are what help children to develop and thrive.
  • Children are naturally inquisitive and learn by doing!
  • If kids learn by creating, thinking, and collaborating, I am certain that many of the behavioral and attention problems will lessen or disappear.
  • Everybody is neurodiverse, and people are not meant to be trained to think and respond like one another; or like robots.
  • There is almost always more than one correct answer to a question, and nonlinear thinking and answers are not a pathology- they’re a gift!
  • All kids want and deserve to succeed.
  • If they say they don’t, it’s because the system has failed them, and they have given up.
  • Here are a few more points relevant to children who are neurodivergent, chromodiverse, or have any other types of differences or disabilities:
  • Making adjustments and providing support are critical and should not be postponed until kids reach higher grades.
  • Children should not be forced to receive low grades or fail due to their “technical difficulties.” If they need to use supportive technology or require oral exams, let them!
  • If their grades do not reflect their true knowledge or abilities, they will lose their will to keep trying, and their self-image will be damaged.
  • No kids are “lazy.” If they appear to be, there is an underlying issue.
  • Neurodivergent kids work much harder than neurotypical children. Never underestimate how hard it is for them. Ask them what they feel will help them succeed, and listen to their answers!
  • Allow them to take breaks when necessary!
  • Don’t compare them to other kids or to yourself. And appreciate their efforts!
  • Remember: parents are your allies! If you design a supportive program for their child together, you will all benefit.

Please, keep the needs of all children in mind before those of the system! Ensuring their well-being is your responsibility!

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Jacki Edry

Jacki Edry

Jacki Edry is a graduate of Hampshire College and has an extensive background in education, writing, and marketing. She has been exploring the world of autism and neurodiversity for over thirty-five years. 

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