LeDerick Horne speaks about the importance of educators being open about their experience and their connection with disability in order to bring a degree of normalcy to those that may need services but feel reluctant to reach out.
And I, on a pretty regular basis, will hear back from young people who will say, five years ago I was in one of your sessions. And you having the courage to openly talk about who you were, what challenges you had in school, allowed me to start for the first time using accommodations, listening to books instead of struggling with just reading them on the page. For feeling comfortable going to have my test proctored and getting some extra time, instead of just fighting and trying to do it the same way as everybody else. I’ve found that students are just waiting for that authentic voice, and I don’t think that you have to be a person that necessarily has a disability to have that.
So one of the things that I just really encourage for educators to do is to talk openly about their experience and their connection with disability. And then also to connect those young people who are in their class that maybe are not listening to them with examples and peer mentors, maybe older students. And also, if you’re dealing with elementary school kids, I think you should be having those high school kids who have IUPs and 504 plans coming in and talking with them about what their experiences are like.
Because I think for a lot of us, it’s just a strong desire to just bring a degree of normalcy to our experience and our interaction with education. And once we can get that, once we can say there’s nothing wrong with me, I think for many of us it then opens up the door for being prepared to say, OK, now I’ll accept help, I’ll accept services, and I can therefore transform my educational experience.