When I first trained in this field, I was fortunate to work with students with ADHD and
dyslexia at a medical center where we expected each student to be a capable learner. We
viewed "accommodations" as temporary while we taught each student to master academic
skills and the strategies needed to apply them. Our job as educators was to teach a student
"how to learn" in a way that matched each student's talents. We always used individualized,
science-based targeted instruction based upon a student’s strengths and needs.
Today "accommodations" are often used to pass a student through the educational system
that focuses on curriculum for each grade level instead of skill mastery for each student.
Real academic skills build true self-esteem and provide an individual many positive
choices in life. Besides teaching academic skills, I also teach the resilience,
persistence, and executive function skills that help a struggling student become
an independent student.
Many of my former students with dyslexia and/or ADHD have written to let me know what
they have achieved since we worked together. One such student, whose parents were told
by her elementary school not to expect much from her, just graduated college. Not only
was she on the Dean's List every year, but she graduated on the President's List with
a 4.0 in her major. Her father wrote that his daughter should serve as a model for
everyone "not in the majority" to know that it is possible to succeed in the regular
academic environment. She and her parents attribute her successful college experience
to her solid academic skills, her clear understanding of how she learns, and her
training to apply that knowledge to master college level curriculum.
While it is true that early intervention is the best approach to build a solid
academic foundation needed throughout school, it is never too late to develop
the skills to become an independent, competent individual.