Our World of Learning

Not just a clever expansion of the acronym ‘OWL’.. but that is good.

Learning is what motivates me. I love to learn. I love the process of learning. I love learning about obstacles to learning and I have two children who find learning difficult, both for different reasons. This is ‘my world of learning’.

Amy is 11 and has autism. I struggle with that descriptor on many levels not least because it doesn’t describe her, but draws attention to some traits which are difficult to manage. Difficult to explain to others perhaps, as I think we manage quite well. That’s not to say that it is easy – it isn’t, but neither is Sudoku and there are less books and facebook pages dedicated to it. It pains me to see families hiding under the ‘autism family’ banner. It does not define my family any more than it defines Amy. Its not an excuse, nor the main topic of conversation when I meet friends. Neither do I feel the need to stick it on the back of my car. Amy has dandruff too.. who wants to know that? So we don’t hide under it, we don’t advertise it, we are not intimidated by it, its just there. Amy was a tiny baby (1lb 2oz) and we are grateful for everything she has achieved as her chances were slim. As is she.. she’s a petite wee pet and people assume that I am her childminder.. (read into that what you will)..

Lucy is 6 and doesn’t ‘have’ anything, primarily because you need to fail before the system wants to know why.. Since Lucy was a toddler I’ve known that things just don’t come easily to her. Her milestones were late, although it clear to anyone who spends time with her that she is a smart cookie.. she just thinks differently to most people. I love her observations on life and indeed those could be the subject of a blog of their own – her wit and wisdom for someone so young belie the fact that she cannot read and knows few letters. She can talk the talk though. I’m going to try my hardest to help her to learn in a way that will work for her. Lucy is so like me and yet so unlike me.. learning came easily to me, in fact I may have been lazy as I knew I didn’t have to work too hard. I’d love the light to click on for Lucy as it would open the world to her. To be fair, if it doesn’t click no one might notice, as Lucy is the most enchanting wee soul and will sail through life anyway.

I’m particularly interested in autism, ADHD and dyslexia – the aetiology of these conditions fascinates me and indeed my thesis for my degree was on automaticity in dyslexia – little did I know that 20 years later I’d still be fascinated by this. It’s scary now how many children in a class of 25 are affected by one or more of these conditions. The impact on their learning, not just in school, but in life, socially and in the world of work is immense. I intend to focus my attentions on the lifespan of learning within this arena – wouldn’t it be lovely if the tags didn’t need to be used and the needs of each person at each stage of their life were paramount, whatever they were, but at this stage that would be a pipe dream. But leave it with me…




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