Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers

Yes (many times yes…)
I am a huge proponent of critical reflection and teach this as a subject within all my subjects (to adults), but i have seen how we can turn children off their individual relationships with reading, creative thinking & play, dreaming (ahhh) and so on… why can’t they just find someone to talk to about it – if they want to? reading is a special, internal joy that, much like home-made jokes, tends to lose something in the telling, unless others are excited about the stories / ideas in them as much as we are, brimming over with the desire to share ‘the best bits’ and the howlers, the fun of it all, the intimacy of our thoughts and feelings nurtured or protected… choice is a fundamental issue in learning: if i am not excited by one book / play / topic / tv programme / film, then if there is not a promise of hidden treasure(s) or of the ‘next’ one being a potential corker, its hard to get and keep motivated, interested – but that’s me firing off the first thing i thought of in response to this clever and passionate post, not a rounded argument or the like, just someone with dyslexia and beyond who is a great, if uneven, reader with concentration issues 🙂

Why is it alright to impose rules on children's reading lives that we would never follow as adults?

Choice.

The number one thing all the students I have polled through the years want the most when it comes to reading.  No matter how I phrase the question, this answer in all of its versions is always at the top.  Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes just stated as a matter of fact; please let us choose the books we want to read.

Yet, how often is this a reality for the students we teach?  How often, in our eagerness to be great teachers, do we remove or disallow the very things students yearn for to have meaningful literacy experiences?  How many of the things we do to students would we never put up with ourselves?  In our quest to create lifelong readers, we seem to be missing some very basic truths about what makes a reader.  So what are the rules we would probably not always follow ourselves?

Removing…

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You, yes you, need Autistic friends

Thirty Days of Autism

The following is a guest post by of  Radical Neurodivergence Speaking

Intended audience: parents of Autistic kids. Though obviously everyone needs Autistic friends.

So your child was just diagnosed with autism. Breathe. Breathe deeper. Relax. It’ll all be ok. But you have some work to do.

The first thing you need to do isn’t find therapists. It isn’t commiserate with other parents. It isn’t become an AAC expert (though all of these things have their place!). It’s something not in the autism introduction packet: you need to connect on a human level with adults like your child. You need to go make some Autistic friends.

I don’t mean a mentoring relationship, though those are extremely important and I am a big fan of mentoring (and mentoring your child & being friends with you are not mutually exclusive). I definitely don’t mean “translate my child to me” (which…

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The One Thing that Made the Biggest Difference (According to My Students)

yes, i agree: it is a challenge to start & keep going, but continuing to read can (incrementally) give us the hugest pleasure, to master and start relishing stories, ideas, visions and get lost in other worlds – we may be dyslexic / neurodivergent readers, but if we can read things we want to know about, enjoy and can relate to, emotionally as well as intellectually, what powers of imagination and creativity may be released – along with the most important development of self-confidence and raised self-esteem. its not easy, though, but what is easy, that we really value? relationships? learning to ride a bike or drive? travelling across continents? in my case not dropping my lunch / drink down my front / keyboard or forgetting the book in the first place… just low-level skills that get in the way sometimes, i swat them away like a fly these days, and concentrate on the things i value, whilst learning or re-learning new things and skills. for example, i got back on my bike last weekend after a lengthy absence due to having broken my wrist & other mishaps – scary, exhilarating and back-aching, but i am so happy with myself for doing it, for ‘feeling that fear and doing it anyway’, and the enjoyment of it – life is good for the moment, then 🙂 Lots of challenges coming my way now, as for everyone else, i’m sure (but these are things that previously I had seen as ‘threats’ / worries / and too scared to take them on)… oh the uneven nature of life, learning & doing (laughed at that: it almost sounds intelligent – time to stop, then!) 🙂

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I asked my students what made the biggest difference. I  asked them what I should tell other educators as I ready myself for speaking this summer, honored to be invited to so many great states.  I asked them what they wished every teacher would do, if they had to pick one thing, what would it be?  Answer after answer, paper upon paper, they told me their one thing.  And while I wasn’t surprised, I had not expected it to be so frequent.  I had not expected it to show up on so many independently answered surveys.  I had not expected it to be the ONE thing so many times.

Please tell them to give us time to read.  Please allow us at least 10 minutes.  Please tell us to read.  Tell us to read only great books.  Give us the time so we can fall back in love.

The time; that…

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Parents – How to Help Your Child Love Reading Over the Summer

The beauty of summer reading is falling into the pages of a book and not having to come up for air until it is done. @pernilleripp

I know many of us educators (and those at home) have been working hard all year to try to cultivate or protect a love of reading in our learners.   Now with warmer temperatures and summer beckoning for the Northern Hemisphere comes the real test; will kids keep reading over the summer?  Is what we did enough?  Did we lay enough of a foundation, get them excited, get them hooked so that the next few weeks or months will not put them in a reading drought?  While time will truly be the judge of how the work might pay off, here are a few ideas that may help depending on the age of the learner.

Have a to-be-read list.  All year we have cultivated ours, trying to add as many titles as possible so that when the students leave our classrooms they have something to help guide them when they…

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Know Your Place

yes, and own it… easy for me to say? not at all. worth it – hell, yes!

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When I was a second year teacher I was told to know my place.  To remember that although I might have a voice, I should be more careful.  That I should not ask so many questions, nor share quite so many ideas.  That some things would be better left unsaid because I had not earned the right to say them.  And not just told it either.  No, for extra emphasis it was written as part of my official evaluation that year.  In my permanent record lest I ever forget that I had a place to be in.  That the place I needed to be in was one of new teacher that followed most of the rules and certainly did not question so much.

I remember I went back to my classroom shell-shocked.  When I closed the door, I cried. Maybe this teaching thing was not for me after all.  Maybe asking…

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Awesome Autistic Adults

Amen.

helpfulhev

We can all remember difficult times in our childhood.  Struggles that often make a huge impact on us even as adults, some make us stronger, some leave permanent scars, but most do both. 

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Now imagine growing up not allowed to be yourself.  Being seen as a burden, strange, “not right in the head”, the things you enjoy being restricted, the things that stabilise your happiness and wellbeing being removed from you.  Many of us have vague memories of this happening, but to many autistic adults this was a daily struggle.  The embarrassed mothers, the teachers who branded them as naughty or lazy, the therapists who tried to ” normalise ” these kids.  Autism awareness was rare, acceptance decades away.  All help given was on the understanding that the child needs to be as “normal” as possible. 

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Luckily nowadays parents, teachers and therapists are gradually learning that this method is unacceptable. …

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Internalized Ableism and The Job Hunt; Or “Why Don’t I Believe It is Better Not to Die?”

yes… a thousand times yes! what do we need in order to slow down? empathetic but running faster and faster… how does that make sense?

Autistic Academic

When I was a kid, becoming the second-wave feminist “Woman Who Has It All” was presented not as an option, but as a requirement.  I had to have a full-time career, maintain my own house, get married (to a dude only), have children, and look good doing it.  Oh, and I had to be the primary breadwinner, too.

Taking the partial package was never presented to me as an option.

I ditched the “have kids” demand pretty early – tocophobia set in right about the time I figured out that when the “where do babies come from?” book talked about fetuses developing inside the uterus, it means that to have a baby, a fetus would have to develop inside my uterus.  No the fuck thank you.

But, of course, refusing to have kids meant I was merely expected to work harder at everything else.  Kids were the one excuse to be…

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Autistic People Should . . .

Musings of an Aspie

This post is part of today’s “Autistic People Should” flash blog where Autistic bloggers are writing about positive things that Autistic people should do. Why? Because if you type “Autistic people should” into either Google or Bing’s search engine query box, the autocomplete results–the most popular searches starting with those words–are disturbing and upsetting, especially if you’re Autistic or love someone who is.

Trigger Warning:  I’ve posted a screenshot of the text from Google’s autocomplete at the end of this post and as I said above, it may be very upsetting if you are Autistic or care for someone who is.

——

Autistic people should: question everything.

When we’re given an autism spectrum diagnosis, we’ve also given a model of what it means to be autistic.

Question the model.

Start here:

A wordmap of Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic criteria A wordmap of Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic criteria.  The larger the word, the more frequently it appears in…

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Decoding the High Functioning Label

Musings of an Aspie

Aspies are often labeled high functioning by default. Some people even seem to think it’s a compliment.

“You must be very high functioning. You don’t seem autistic.”

“Why, thank you. And you’re not especially ugly.”

Because, yeah . . . being told you’re “not that autistic” like it’s a good thing is hard to swallow.

Functioning Labels in Practice

Applying functioning labels to autistic people is problematic. Maybe an example will help illustrate why.

I’ll describe two autistic women, Mary and Joan. See if you can tell which one is high functioning and which one is low functioning:

Mary is a wife and mother. She’s been steadily employed since age 16, has a BA degree and runs her own small business. She exercises regularly and is health conscious. When her daughter was younger, she volunteered for parent committees, hosted sleepovers, coached softball and drove carpool. As the more detail-oriented spouse…

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Dyslexia and Me: The Dissertation Experience

The joy of the dissertation (well… not quite)

some of us dyslexic learners (me, anyway – anyone else?) tend to over-read, think about & expect to keep doing so until we are fit to burst, and then further expect to begin writing: perfectly, from word 1 to 20,000 without error, pause or structure…

luckily for me i know useful approaches and strategies – nowadays – which in the past would have saved me from walking around with what felt like a small-planet sized head full of information, ideas (half-formed) and questions until so exhausted i had to almost explode it all onto the page: whatever there was by that stage & usually just before the deadline, having left the writing to the last-minute / last midnight; thus leaving no time for proof-reading, further review and reflection and basically re-arranging the mangled structure – not linear, but tangential, representing my natural way of thinking.

Goodness, some of us make it hard for ourselves – but, then again, if we don’t know we are dyslexic when in school and university, then how do we know to conform to a different way of thinking and doing for academia?

fortunately for me (again… sorry), i can write ok, although now if left unchecked it is more of a stream of consciousness now, rather than the rather stilted prose of yore where ‘form’ was the major issue to master, leaving ideas aside in the demands for conformity on the un-living page… still, both approaches have their merits & issues.

This is a great blog-post from ‘Dyslexia and Me’ sharing some of the trials and successes along the way :))

Dyslexia and Me

My dissertation is complete! Phew! My dissertation is complete! Phew!

Hello again! Thanks for rejoining me in my journey with dyslexia and scotopic sensitivity syndrome. I’ve finally finished my dissertation and have time once again to blog. Hoorah! But boy was it tough!  

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