Educational Success with Learning Differences

by Matthew Worwood

A recent episode of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast focused on educational success with learning differences. This is an emerging name for what we still refer to as learning disabilities, but in her book, YES! Your Child Can. Victoria Waller shares her preferences for this name because it acknowledges the challenges and strengths of a child.

Victoria reminds us all to acknowledge – yes, your child can!

Throughout my life, I’ve been reluctant to say I suffer/suffered from learning differences, mostly because I feel that their impact on my life was minimal and not as bad as other children I knew who shared a similar diagnosis. My Mom would retell the story a little differently. She would speak about my challenges with reading and my inability to retain information as a young child, even after it had been taught to me numerous times. She would remind me how often I would cry in frustration because I couldn’t comprehend the learning prompt and my envy of others who seemed to blitz through assignments like they were nothing.

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The issue for me was that I did “ok” on tests, so teachers weren’t always aware of the struggles behind the scenes. My mother eventually had me tested privately, where I received a diagnosis of dyslexia and problems with short-term memory. Rather than getting any more in the weeds, I’ll say the following:

I did ok at school and now have a doctorate in education and work at a University. I love learning, but I find it extremely hard. Some refer to me as intelligent, and I am frustrated because I feel it undermines the struggles I still experience behind the scenes. I also still feel intellectually to others in the room. I continue to make silly spelling errors. I still seem to process information differently from others, and I still have sweaty hands when writing in front of others or having to introduce someone in public for fear of forgetting the simplest of names.

Yes! Your Child Can

What prompted this article? I recently had the opportunity to interview Victoria Waller about her new book, YES! Your Child Can. My discussions with her brought back memories of my mother and her interventions. As a result of her actions, I received support during school and a better understanding of how I approach learning. I know how to apply specific strategies to different tasks, and I even feel I leverage things like my capacity to become hyper-focused to my advantage.

In her book, Victoria offers a step-by-step guide for any parent who has a gut feeling that their child might have a difference in their approach to learning. She takes you through the gut feeling and denial phase, pushing hard on the concept that your child “won’t snap out of it” and why engaging in proper testing and diagnosis is essential at an early age. Most importantly, Victoria’s belief in your child’s success is evident. It was something that both Cyndi and I cherished during her interview on the Fueling Creativity in Education Podcast and something Victoria reminds us all to acknowledge – yes, your child can!

Check out her book here or listen to the interview below!

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Matthew Worwood
Matthew Worwood is an educator, Creative Studies scholar-practitioner, and co-host of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast. He is a professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Connecticut and a husband and proud father to three young boys.

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