Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month in Canada. It is recognized in order to reduce the stigma surrounding learning disabilities in children and adults. It is a month to learn more about the challenges that individuals with learning disabilities face and to consider what kind of support your organization can offer.
It is especially important this year to recognize Learning Disabilities Month, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional challenges to those who already faced barriers to learning. As the President of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, Lawrence Barns, said, “this pandemic has heightened challenges at school, university, the workplace, and of course homes in lockdown.”
At NPower Canada, we understand that all learners are different. We want our participants to be able to learn at their appropriate pace and have the right support that will enable them to succeed. Recently, we began giving participants access to program materials prior to beginning the program so they can familiarize themselves with the platforms we use and the content that will be covered. We ensure that when the time comes to begin the program, they feel confident and prepared. Participants also have the opportunity to meet the team to build rapport with and feel comfortable disclosing the kind of support and accommodations they will need with their instructors early in training.
We received positive feedback about the early access and heard that participants felt more comfortable beginning the program and that it reduced their anxiety, which had been a challenge in previous cohorts. As the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario reports, the stigma and public perception of learning disabilities are the inhibitory obstacles, as it makes people feel as if they have to struggle in silence. Early access enables them to build confidence and strengthen their belief in their potential to succeed.
We encourage participants to reach out to us if they need any learning accommodations, which can include, but are not limited to, having unique testing conditions and allowances, granting extensions, incorporating training breaks, peer notetaking and providing support software. Participants meet with our instructors to discuss their unique needs, and in turn, our instructors take time to build relationships and create safe learning environments for all.
Moreover, we offer our participants counselling and life-skills coaching so they are supported to succeed in the program. Human services licensed professionals provide individual counselling and make warm referrals to wraparound services in areas like mental health, childcare, and housing. Our wraparound supports seek to address not only external barriers that can be an obstacle to success in the program, but also internal learning obstacles that require accommodation.
This month, and every month, we will ensure that we are supporting and bringing awareness to all types of learners, including those with learning disabilities. To learn more about why the month is recognized and to learn more about the Learning Disabilities Association, please visit one of the provincial webpages: Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.