Rhonda Filmer MEdAdmin, COGE, B.A.,Grad Dip Ed
This consultancy arose from my observations and growing unease that many bright, articulate and knowledgeable students did not have corresponding well-developed skills in reading in the schools. I soon realised that unless a teacher has been educated about special needs children with Dyslexia/Reading Disorder, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Dyspraxia, to name a few, she cannot know what to do with such a counter-intuitive child. Armed with post-graduate knowledge in gifted education and many years of primary teaching I trawled my way through the special education literature on learning disabilities and past examples of such children.
“For many, the terms learning disabilities and giftedness are at opposite ends of a learning spectrum. Uneasiness in accepting this seeming contradiction in terms stems primarily from faulty ideas and incomplete understandings of each term. Simply put, the gifted, learning disabled student is a child who exhibits remarkable talents or strengths in some areas and disabling weaknesses in others” (Baum, Owen & Dixon 1991). The work of Linda Silverman at the Gifted Development Center in Denver, Colorado was a source of inspiration. But the perspective of the psychologist is diagnosis, explanation and adjustment. As a teacher I want, in addition, remediation (skill development) and improved self-efficacy.
Dyslexia is fully defined and explained in ”Helping people with dyslexia:a national action agenda” Report to the Hon Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, from the Dyslexia Working Party (2010) found at http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/37303828 . This pervasive disorder often goes undetected in a gifted child yet its effects can be devastating.
For 12 years I have worked with families, students and schools to improve the academic outcomes and socio-affective well-being of students so they can demonstrate their knowledge of literature, science or the arts in products that the adult world would recognise as “talented”.