“I think the concept of Neurodiversity has been world-changing, by giving us a new perspective on humanity.” – Sociologist and author Judy Singer
Can you believe it’s already October?
That means that the days are getting cooler and shorter. There is seemingly a pumpkin spice flavor for just about everything. And parents and kids have settled into their new school year routines.
October also means that it is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. As former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said about the month, “This is a time to understand how these disabilities impact students and their families, to reflect on the significant achievements that these students have made, and to renew our commitment to creating a stronger future for them.”
At Learnfully, we take it a step further: we believe this month is a time to recognize and celebrate our differences. We recently launched the LDA Toolkit page to help our community share a message of awareness, empathy, and understanding for all of our learners in need.
In the last few Octobers, though, it’s been hard to feel celebratory. In 2020, we were in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, gearing up for our first Covid winter. In 2021, we were still dealing with surges in variants and a cobbling together of remote and in-person learning. People with learning disabilities, who are generally more reliant on the rhythms of routine, were impacted more than others by the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
In the same breath, there were some silver linings. We became a more aware society. Mental health was no longer a taboo subject. People became more open about their vulnerabilities – including how they work best, learn best, process information, and function. Companies became more accommodating to the different needs of their employees. Parents who saw their children everyday in the virtual classroom, gained a greater understanding of their needs, how they learn, and how they interact with their teachers and classmates. These insights made us better parents, but also quicker to act when issues arise. We learned first-hand about the value of collaboration between parents and teachers—and now come informed about our child’s needs.
Now, we’re emerging on the other side of the pandemic. Children have returned to the classroom, even as hybrid and remote work remains prominent – which means parents are more present in their learners’ daily lives. For all these reasons, this October feels different from recent years. It feels like there is finally a twinkle of light at the end of the tunnel—finally an October worth celebrating.
The idea of designating a specific month as an “awareness month” implies that the wider public is generally unaware of a certain condition or issue. That the public is unaware of a problem.
But as we kickoff October and Learning Disability Awareness Month, the Learnfully team has a different perspective. We’re not trying to raise awareness of something negative, but rather call attention to something we see as a positive. We see this October a celebration: a celebration of diversity and of differences.
We believe all of us learn differently. But what is most important is that we are all able to learn fully.