Schools try to help and support families with neurodiverse learners, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room for anyone who doesn’t fit into the “normal” box. What schools don’t acknowledge is that no two kids will ever be the same or learn in the same way.
It’s the parents’ responsibility to advocate for their children and to help (kindly) educate schools, teachers, and other parents about how their child navigates the world.
Our system is setting kids up for failure, and that’s the last thing our kids or we as educators and parents want.
This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Debbie Reber, author of Differently Wired, a parent of a “differently wired” child, and founder of TiLT Parenting. Debbie found herself doing research and creating tools to help her own child and wanted to be able to offer them to other parents.
We talk about how schools can honor learner differences, how our system is set up for failure, and how COVID has positively impacted the way we teach our kids. It’s a must-listen for anyone who teaches or parents differently wired kiddos.
About Debbie Reber:
Debbie Reber, MA, is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a resource for raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has 4 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A certified Positive Discipline trainer and a regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is Differently Wired: Parenting an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope. In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired. Follow TiLT Parenting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Jump in the Conversation:
[3:00] – Going beyond parenting to creating resources for other parents
[5:04] – Tilt Parenting – resource and podcast
[7:15] – Most common frustrations in school communities
[9:21] – How schools can honor learner differences
[10:54] – Our system is set up for failure
[13:48] – How parents can advocate for their kids
[17:41] – Finding community online
[22:20] – We’re afraid of failing our kids
[24:24] – Turbo Time
[27:38] – What you need to know about TiLTing
[32:27] – Debbie’s Magic Wand
[34:30] – Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources
- Episode 8: Creating Teams of Learning Support
- The End of Average by Todd Rose
- The Myth of Average TEDx Talk by Todd Rose
- Dr. Ross Green and The Explosive Child book
- The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of Ed active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Listeners you are in for a treat today. Debbie Reber. Author of differently wired raising an exceptional child in a conventional world is our guest. She is a national resource supporting 1000s of parents of neurodivergent learners. Her hundreds of podcast episodes provide a wealth of expertise on various topics impacting our rainbow of learners. Debbie has tilt parenting groups on social media as a place where parents can connect and support each other. And she also provides group coaching for parents so they can bring their best selves to this role of parenting. You will not want to miss Debbie’s ideas as a mom, activist, and speaker. In addition to this podcast, Debbie is one of our guests on our free at active Summit, which is April 28, and 29th. Not only will she be speaking, but she will be a part of a panel where you can ask questions and engage in valuable dialogue. Let’s get this interview started.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:28
Hi, Debbie, it is so good to have you on education evolution.
Debbie Reber 2:32
Hi, Maureen. Thanks for having me.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:35
And listeners. today I’m chatting with Debbie Reber. Debbie is a fierce parenting activist. She is the author of differently wired raising an exceptional child in a conventional world. Her podcast and tilt parenting community offer resources for hundreds of parents raising differently wired children. Let’s dive in. Sounds good. Debbie, you and I both live the challenge of parenting a child who is neurodiverse? Could you please tell us how you went beyond this parenting to create such powerful resources for parents of other differently wired children?
Debbie Reber 3:15
Sure, yeah. So I will just say I am someone who has always created what I wish I had access to have done that my whole life. And you know, before I did this work, I was writing self help books for Teen Girls, because even in my 20s, I still considered myself a recovering teenager. And so as I became a parent and started raising a kid who I discovered along the way is neuro divergent and twice exceptional and very complex and didn’t neatly fit into the box, I really struggled to just figure out how to access resources and figure out an educational path and all of those pieces. Even though I was in it, in the back of my mind, I kind of realized, Okay, once I kind of figured this out, I need to help other parents because I know that I’m not alone in this. So it was just kind of a natural thing as I progressed in my journey and got to a better place in terms of you know, my relationship with my child and us really figuring out how to make this work as a family. I just wanted to get to now create what I wish I had access to. And that’s really why I started tilt.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:26
I love it. And that’s why I created my microscope. I wish I had heard that for both of my daughters, something where they could thrive in the way they learn best. So I’m with you if we can take our pain and make something awesome out of it. Why not?
Debbie Reber 4:42
Yeah, you there’s so many people that I talked to from my podcast and otherwise who who’ve gone back to get PhDs and have pursued you know, things they never anticipated all to support their kids and then giving back to other parents. It’s really exciting to see.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:58
Yes, yes. So Tell us what have you created?
Unknown Speaker 5:03
Well, I launched tilt parenting really as a resource as a podcast. Initially, that’s how I started it. And it was almost six years ago to the day as we’re recording this. Wow. And yeah, so I really wanted it to be a place for parents define optimistic, hopeful content that would give them you know, ideas, access to experts, kind of learn how to apply what they may be reading about in books or learning about and therapies and really understand it on a deeper level, and do so in a way that would help them build confidence. So it launched with the podcast, since then it has kind of grown into part of the neurodiversity movement. And I have a really vibrant community both on social media, I have tilt together Facebook group with 1000s of parents who really support each other and show up for each other. I have a wonderful membership community where I get to connect and work closely with parents through live calls and coaching, which I just love to do. And yeah, and I’m always thinking about what’s next, the book came out, you know, so I’m always looking for different ways to, to reach parents in different spaces, and just kind of get the revolution. You know, keep it going forward.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:23
I love that. And I love how diverse and how you took your need, and you keep growing it as you understand more the needs of the parenting community. And, boy, we cannot get enough resources, the parents I talked to are just like, Help Help. And what you do is such a godsend. So thank you. Oh,
Unknown Speaker 6:42
thank you. Thank you. And I mean, they’re just new parents joining this club every day, right? So I really hope that for parents who are new to this journey, or just discovering their child is neuro divergent that they feel more supported right off the bat. And they don’t have to spend years kind of sifting through and I use that metaphor of hacking through the brush of, you know, trying to forge your own path.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:08
Absolutely. And in working with the tilt parenting community, what are the most common frustrations parents have with the traditional school setting? Because that’s our intersection. I really want schools to address and have equitable access for all learners. What are you hearing us the big frustrations?
Unknown Speaker 7:27
I think the biggest challenge, you know is often the fact that neurodivergent kids differently wired kids, the way that their differences show up in a traditional classroom. traditional school setting is often as a behavioral problem or, you know, lack of emotional regulation strategies. Being nonconformist having to put your own creative spin on classwork. You know, all these ways that don’t really fit in with standard classroom management or kind of a cookie cutter approach to this is the way we do school. And this is the way knowledge is demonstrated. And so parents, you know, when they realize that the way their child learns or navigates the world isn’t supported or or respected in a traditional school, that disconnect is really hard. And so many parents find themselves, you know, relying on the school to help them figure out how to make this work, but at the same time, really struggling to have their voices heard. And then watching their child often pay an emotional price for the way that I canceled.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 8:38
Yes. Oh, and that’s so painful for our kids. And for us as parents. Boy, it’s long past the stage of grabbing that Disney, Princess bandaid and covering a boo boo, it’s like so painful to see our kids not thriving in a school setting, in spite of really trying hard. So we know our schools must evolve to serve all learners and that this institution is super outdated. I mean, there are tons of TED Talks and everything about it. In my humble way. This podcast, my book, my microscope, their efforts to showcase and build upon schools that are creating equity for a rainbow of learners. So for the educational teachers and school leaders that are listening in, if you had a few suggestions to help schools do a better job of honoring learning differences. What would be some of your top recommendations?
Unknown Speaker 9:37
Well, I think that behavior piece is really critical. And, you know, I think of Dr. Ross Greene’s work with collaborative and proactive solutions. And one of the things Ross Greene says is that children do well when they can. And I think that if educators kept that, you know, close to their heart and realize that when a child is struggling in a classroom setting, it’s not because they don’t want to every child wants to be successful, every child wants to be seen and celebrated for their strengths. And so if they are not, if they are having a hard time, it’s because they don’t have the skills to do better in that moment, so even that awareness and then we can start to, to look at supporting that child in a way that isn’t about point systems or consequences or losing recess or, you know, all the things that we try to do to manage a child’s behavior, but rather get curious about the underlying causes of that emotional dysregulation and, and working to support the child around those which could be anxiety or sensory issues or other things that are kind of triggering their nervous systems.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 10:51
I completely agree. And I think our system is set up for failure with state testing mandates. And and I know when I taught high school, I had five classes out of the six period day with 30 kids each and with 150. Kids, there was no way I had the bandwidth to really go beyond covering curriculum. So I don’t think just like we say, no kid shows up at school, wanting to fail, wanting to feel stupid, wanting to not get it wanting to feel different. I also feel like no teacher shows up wanting to be mediocre, or miss the needs of kids.
Debbie Reber 11:29
So there’s not a lot of wiggle room there. Unfortunately, in so many schools, and I think about our differently wired learners, especially our twice exceptional learners, they first of all love to learn and are super curious and often have really interesting ways of problem solving or deep areas of interest. And if there was more freedom and flexibility within schools, for kids to demonstrate their knowledge in other ways, you know, a lot of our kids struggle with writing, for example, and you know, when we force a child to write, and that that disconnect of getting it from their brain onto paper, or the computer is a is a real barrier for them. But maybe they could write a you know, they could produce a piece of music about something, or they could do some art, or they could make a video or a documentary or photo essay, you know, there’s so many other ways. And I think that is one of the challenges because as you said, you know, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for teachers, who, who have to teach the test and who feel like they don’t have that flexibility in their curriculum. But if we could start to expand the way that students can demonstrate their mastery of something that would be huge. And it would really help these kids like develop their strengths, which is what we want them to do.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 12:55
Absolutely. And I’m old enough to have been around when Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence was a big deal. And it was a Yes, finally, I kid can be kinesthetic, a kid can be musical a kid can be, there were so many ways to identify smarts. And the whole goal was let them use their strengths. And it just feels like we know, we know so much. We know about neuroscience that kids have to feel safe, they have to feel belonging before they can access the prefrontal lobe and really, really get into the learning. So we know all this and then we’re back to opening heads up and dumping knowledge in which is super ineffective, we’re back to passive learning where kids are talked out and we know our teenagers tune in for about the first 10 seconds of being taught that. So it’s just so crazy. How can parents dealing with this system and dealing with trapped teachers? How can they advocate and perhaps get something different, better, more personalized?
Unknown Speaker 14:01
Well, I do feel that COVID And the disruption that COVID caused to our kids education, has also provided an opportunity to push back a little bit more because we have basically shown that there are other ways to do school. And you know, there are there ways to to be a student and to learn and to to progress in education. And so I feel like parents can capitalize on that disruption and push for different ways, different modalities, different ways for their students to to do their work for younger kids push back against some of the kind of, you know, drill and scale homework that so many schools seem to want our kids to do. And I’m just a big advocate of not taking no for an answer. So recognizing that there probably is a lot more freedom You know, a school is not necessarily going to suggest, you know, well yeah, try this. Yeah, you can push, we can ask for what we want. not take no for an answer. My friend Jess winner, who’s an activist once told me this is I look at this kind of thing is buying a used car, it is an ongoing negotiation. And so approaching any advocacy that you’re doing at the school, knowing also that this is a relationship, right, we don’t want it to be antagonistic. But if we are asking for things, we want to know that ultimately, we all have the child’s best interests at heart. So if we can compassionately educate the educators who are working with our kids, while pushing for what we want, I think there’s a lot more room to come up with creative solutions than a lot of parents realize.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 15:51
I love that. And it doesn’t end with school, I was on the phone with my out of state daughter with autism. She’s 27 and her employer last week, and compassionately educating and being the voice that I’ve worked hard for her to be that she was ready to give up instead of speak up. And so many of our employers don’t, you know, it’s like, Hey, this is the situation and here are her strengths. And here is where she needs your support. And doing it in a way that like, Hey, I’m working on her to speak up. And here’s what’s going on versus you, you you, I really, really need to build that compassion because they can just say, I’m firing this person. It’s like, no, no, no, you guys are doing a great job. Here are some tweaks. So I think that relationship piece is really important to forge in school, because chances are, it’s not going to be like our kids get their high school diploma. And then suddenly, they don’t need our advocacy anymore, at least not in my experience.
Unknown Speaker 16:49
Yeah, I think that compassionate education pieces, it’s critical. It’s critical, not just for educators, it’s critical for our family members who may not really truly understand what’s happening with our kids, you know, people don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s one of the roles we as parents and caregivers can take is to do our own work. So we can show up as best we can for our kids. And then, you know, be those squeaky wheels, but compassionate, squeaky wheels to help others and better understand who our kids are and what they need.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:26
Absolutely. So tell us a little more about how you might be able to be a resource for parents that are going Yikes. I need some support. I need community this is hard, and I feel so alone.
Debbie Reber 17:41
Well, I if you’re on social media, I would say you could join my till together group because you will very quickly see that you’re not alone. It is a very generous, positive group of parents who just show up for each other in the most beautiful ways. It’s it’s not a place to vent, but it’s a place to say this is what I’m going through this is hard. What can I do and you will feel seen and held in that group. Definitely check out my Podcasts, I just recorded my 280/5 episodes and grads thing you can search by, you know, I have themes that homeschooling education, you can look by by categories and and hone in on episodes that might really support you. And then if you are looking for more connection and more supportive community, my differently wired club is been running for about two and a half years now. And that’s where I’m more involved that a lot of people want to work with me one to one and I don’t do that. But this program, we work together as a community on different themes each month, little themes, right? So this month, we’ve been working on CO regulation and emotional regulation. And we just kind of explored that within our lives. And all of my work I should just say is really about us as parents, supporting ourselves so that we can best support our kids. It’s not about problem solving around our kids executive function, although we talk about that stuff, but it’s more of us doing our own work. So the differently wired Club is a place to do that for people who want more connection within a community.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:21
We all thrive with synergy and getting to hear from others. And I know when my daughter was diagnosed with trisomy X, I didn’t know what it was I was overseas, that parent community online made all the difference. It was Yahoo groups. It was early days, but but just like what the heck is this and even aside from that, my daughter’s godmothers have daughters that are older than my daughter’s like oh my gosh, did you go through this and what did you do about teenage messy bedrooms and and and it’s just so nice to not have to figure it all on our own and to hear oh, this is normal. This is okay. This is not a battle worth fighting just shut the bedroom door they can do their own laundry is different things. It’s super nice to not go it alone. And I feel like sometimes I know, I’ve felt despair. And I hear that from other parents like, oh my gosh, so community and our own journey. I think that can’t be overemphasized. I love what you’re doing.
Unknown Speaker 20:23
Thank you so much. I mean, yeah, it is really, I think that’s the hardest part about this journey is, especially when we find out that we’re not going to be able to just kind of move through this and send our kids to the neighborhood school in the summer camp and not have to kind of question every choice is that we do often feel isolated, if it’s not the experience, our neighbors, or you know, the other parents at school are having with their kids. And so we can feel, not just like, there’s something wrong with our child, but that we’re really bad parents, yes, we’re doing all the same things, but we’re getting different results. And so that, you know, can be very isolating. Parents can just feel really insecure. And so yeah, when you start to realize, oh, wait a minute, okay, these are my people, you guys get what I’m going through. Yeah, that changes everything that allows us to really then start to lean into and embrace who our kids actually are, instead of fighting, you know, what’s actually happening.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:27
Yeah. And I think that gets that then to relationships with school and compassionately educating. Because when I am super mad as a mom, chances are, I’m being really hard on myself, and it’s coming out. And chances are, I’m also feeling guilty and maybe even shamed that I’m not a better mom, and that my child is in distress. So I love that, hey, we can really lean on each other and be vulnerable with each other and be supported by each other. And then through doing our own journey, have more to give and more to collaborate with schools and other parents and our families. So it’s just seems like a really healthy way to approach this challenge of parenting.
Unknown Speaker 22:09
Yeah, and, you know, in addition to the guilt, and the shame and isolation, it really comes down to fear, right? Because we are so afraid of failing our kids making the wrong decisions, we’re afraid of what our child’s future is going to look like if they do X, Y, and Z. And so that is something we also really have to confront is our own fears, and kind of do the work so that we can, instead parent through a lens of possibility and creativity.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:44
I have to note that parents through a lens of possibility. Yeah. And for me, hearing at the Children’s Hospital in the Seattle area, I was like, my ninth grader should be working on adulting skills and life skills like no expect there to be a delay, maybe even three years. Take your time, that gave me permission to really look at possibilities. And instead of oh, can this person, you know, Can she hold on a job and live independently? It’s like, Oh, you want to try roller derby? Let’s do it. It just gave me bandwidth to do things that weren’t critical that were super important. So yeah, I think that we want to get to possibility and not feel like there’s a lack of abundance or lack of options.
Unknown Speaker 23:30
Yeah, it changes everything. If we can really start to open up to what’s possible. I love that example. I mean, timelines is a huge piece of this, and especially when you have a teenager, or a high school student, because there are all these arbitrary milestones, and we start to panic. And there is no one way that this has to look. And that that is something people can know intellectually, but to feel it and really believe it is something different. And that’s where we need to keep kind of confronting these ideas we have about what this is supposed to look like. And instead start looking at the individual that we are parenting and wondering. Hmm, I wonder what this is gonna look like for him or her or them, you know, how’s this gonna unfold?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:14
Yes. Love it. Well, Debbie, I want to shift because I think it’s really important to hear your story and to learn more about you. So I have some turtle time questions, just to get to know you better because it all fits together. And I think it makes it fun and interesting. So are you ready to turbo time?
Debbie Reber 24:34
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:36
Yay. Okay, what’s the last book you read?
Unknown Speaker 24:40
The last book I read is a novel called The other black girl. And it’s by an author named Kaia Harris. And yeah, it was a very twisty, interesting, contemporary novel. Did you read it?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:53
I did. And I felt the same. It’s like, whoa, what? Yeah, yeah. It was good. And it was different. than what I normally read. So that stretched me. Yeah, for sure. How about two expressional folks that you’d love to meet?
Unknown Speaker 25:07
That is a really hard question. I always have the first answer. And that is Kurt Vonnegut, because he is my absolute favorite author. Sadly, he passed away about 15 years ago, but he changed my life when I read Breakfast of Champions, one of his novels when I was a high school student, and I devoured all his books. And now my teenager loves Kurt as well. So I would totally want to hang out with Kurt Vonnegut. And the other is Mindy Keeling, who she is an author, a show creator. She’s an Indian American woman, she’s a comedian. She, she’s just a trailblazer. And so not in the parenting space at all, but just a very bold woman who’s been a trailblazer. And as a writer, and a comedian in Hollywood, and a feminist and just a cool, awesome, all around person.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:02
I love that. And I think Trailblazers give us courage to also be a little more daring. So that’s a powerful example. Yeah. How about a TED Talk that inspires you?
Unknown Speaker 26:15
So a TED talk that I have stumbled upon in the last couple years that I’ve watched several times. And love is Todd Rose, he wrote the book, the end of average, and he is someone who grew up being the terrible student failed out of college learning disabilities. goofball now is a Harvard PhD researcher who who explores the way that education systems and other systems are designed for the quote unquote, average person, but that average actually does not exist. And so he’s very much in line with what we’re talking about. And I love his his science and research that he’s doing in that area.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:59
Absolutely. I’m horrible book titles, but I remember reading on his book that it opened with, we used to think that pilots had to have an average body type and this and that, and then planes were crashing, and we realized, oh, there is, you know, and that what a set up that is for all of us. And I love that it was freeing. It was like, Oh, my God, this doesn’t exist. What a myth. And thank you for myth busting. So, yes, I am totally with you on that. Um, what’s the biggest thing you wish parents knew about tilting their parenting experience? I love the title tilt.
Unknown Speaker 27:35
Yeah, thank you. And I think, you know, circling back to something we talked about before, just that we really are the biggest obstacle, like, what we discover our kid is moving through the world differently. We often just really go all in on therapies and supports, and we read all the books, and we want all of the tools and strategies to, quote unquote, fix our kids. But really, the biggest obstacle to our kids becoming kind of self actualized adults who really know themselves well, and can lead those fulfilled lives, is us getting out of our own way. And kind of uncovering all the beliefs that we have about the way this is supposed to look and healing parts of ourselves that are kind of triggered by who our kids actually are. So yeah, I guess it would just be that it has to start with us anything that we’re doing to support our kids in our family.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:33
I love that. I think that the image that always kind of shocks me is that so often, we asked our fish to fly, and we just beat them up until they can fly or ask our birds to swim. And it’s like, oh my gosh, what if we could just help our fish be the best swimmers and explore the coral reefs and do them fully? So I agree, I think we fear and we think normal and oh my gosh, my kid has to be in a four year college. My kid has to be on the elite soccer team, or else and and yeah, unpacking it and working on our own journey. That makes perfect sense to me. How about a pet peeve of yours?
Unknown Speaker 29:17
So this is an interesting question, because the first thing that came to mind is like, when I go into a bathroom in my apartment, and the towels are just like, you know, the hand towels, like I’m sorry, it was folded when you went in, and now it’s just like hanging like, so that is a very simple pet peeve. But I also you know, like a bigger pet peeve is people who, who believe that they’re right, who are very self righteous about the fact that they’re correct, but they’re not willing to do any inquiry in or do a deeper dive into other points of view. So I really struggle with people who are I guess close minded?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:59
Yeah. Yeah, yes, agreed, and the passion you bring to tilt parenting?
Unknown Speaker 30:05
Well, I would say, I mean, all the things that I do I bring to tilt parenting, my passion for research my passion for, for helping other parents kind of experience less pain in their parenting journey. And I think more than anything, I really want families to feel joy and confidence and choice in their parenting journey. And that is kind of my biggest thing. I mean, that’s what I work so hard to create in my own life. And that’s what I want to share with parents more than anything. Yes.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:45
Joy, confidence choice. Yes, yeah. How about something about you that most people don’t know.
Unknown Speaker 30:57
So there’s so many things, I have to just say I have a little bit of a Forrest Gump thing going on. I’ve met so many people in so many different careers. I will say this is a really obscure one. But I was on the David Letterman show when I was in college, because I was interviewing for an internship at NBC. summer after my junior year, and I was waiting for the interview and a producer from his show came in and said, Hey, we’re recording a skit with Dave Letterman, where he is interviewing all the internship candidates would do you have extra time? And I was like, Yes, I would be happy to do that. So I got to shoot a little segment with Dave in his office. I had the worst outfit on I. It’s embarrassing. It’s only on a VHS tape at this point. So it’s really hard to see. But that was a that was a pretty crazy experience that a lot of people don’t know about.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:58
I love it. And I love to that this question gets it really how multi dimensional we are and takes us out of like, oh, this person’s all about the scholarly. Oh, this is a real human that had this real experience. So yeah, super fun. I like to close my podcast, interviews with a magic wand moment because like you, I know that these possibilities are more than just wishful thinking. So what would be one wish you would have for all parents so that they could bring their best selves to the very, very, very important role of parent?
Unknown Speaker 32:38
Oh, wow. I wish that parents going back to that word of choice, believed and felt or could experience the fact that there’s more than one way that this can look because so many parents feel stuck. And like they have no options or choice, but this school or this program or this path. And yeah, so if I could wave a magic wand, it would be to, for parents to, to realize that there are a lot of possibilities. And even within whatever their circumstances are that there’s there’s always some room for other ways to do things. So that would be the magic wand. For me.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:25
I love it. And again, that goes to getting out of that fear space, and trusting. And it also goes to reaching out and hearing other stories. So we have more information. And it also goes to not having that artificial milestone mentality that at this stage, every child should be doing X. So yeah, what a gift that we give our parents and, and seriously what a gift you are an all of your resources are in the show notes. It’s just like, I just hear so many parents in pain. And it doesn’t have to be that they’re so alone. And your resources are so generous. And I appreciate deeply too, that from your own experience. You are wanting to make it easier for others, and you’re a gift to them. So thank you so much, Debbie, for being our guest and for all you do.
Debbie Reber 34:17
Thank you so much thanks for the conversation.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:30
Debbie is inspirational in her desire to be a parenting resource for others who are experiencing the challenges she has experienced raising a neurodivergent child. providing parents with hope and strategies they can learn and apply creates a powerful resource. It’s always struck me as tragic when the child is looked at as a behavioral problem because of neurodiversity. I’ve met children who have been stuck in classrooms for BD behavioral disorders. One student who later joined our school was placed in that loud BD setting when their issue was sensitivity to noise, and their acting out was to shut down. Freedom mismatches like this harm, instead of help our children with learning differences. Educators, Debbie has three simple steps that are not necessarily easy for you to take immediately. Number one, become aware. Learn more about our twice exceptional kids, for that matter. Learn more about trauma informed care, her podcast mine and many other resources are there to help you have a broader understanding of what challenges students are bringing into your classroom. Number two, we have to get beyond stick and carrot behavior mentality. Looking at social communication, such as Julie burgers, dentists, a skilled speech and language pathologists told us in episode eight is an important lens. So is understanding triggers and regulation, and helping students gain self awareness to help them with regulation. Number three and four, add more freedom and play to strengths. Think about how we appreciate getting to learn and express ourselves in different ways, and how we chose careers based on those interests and strengths. There are many ways we can take pencil and paper testing and time limits and shift to a variety of ways of demonstrating knowledge and competency. And you don’t have to have all the answers. Ask the student and their parents how they might demonstrate their knowledge. Simple, but not easy. I know your plates are full. And I know that you want every kid to thrive. Thank you for considering these options. And thank you for being a part of helping education evolve in these humane ways.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:13
Parents, you’re not off the hook either. We know it takes a village to raise each of our children. You need to as Debbie says compassionately, educate others to how your child learns, and what your child’s specific needs are. You are that advocate. I’m still that advocate with my neurodiverse 27 year old, you can help make learning and other environments work for your child. And we all need to get past a set way of how learning and learners are supposed to look. When I’m on a community college campus, I see students from ages 15 to 65. I see students taking one non credit class up to overly full class loads. Some are working on degrees, others on certificates, and others on personal enrichment. Some of that variety can happen in our schools as well, especially in high school. one size never fits all during or after high school. Why do we push so hard to keep our kids in such a lockstep program? When we know this, we can reimagine education. And I truly hope that you will join our ED active summit to hear many ideas and to add your thoughts and questions in our three panel discussions. Details are in the shownotes we are also able to offer continuing ed credits. We can be activists to create equitable and real world learning for all you. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:01
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit educationevolution.org/consult to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode. valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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