By Kristen Kushiyama Public Affairs Specialist, OSERS, U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education held the seventh annual ED Games Expo at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Jan. 9.
“The ED Games Expo is the department’s annual public showcase and celebration of educational learning games as well as innovative forms of learning technologies for children and students in education and special education,” according to the ED Games Expo site.
The expo had almost 150 learning and technology games that covered topics such as early learning, science, engineering, making, math, reading, social studies, English learning and social skills for all students — including students with disabilities.
Throughout October, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services highlighted aspects of disability awareness for national disability employment, dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD and Down syndrome.
One of the scariest experiences in life is finding a job after college. Sometimes it felt like the more I applied, the more I got rejected. I struggled with finding the right job. You see, I am a woman of color with a learning disability and society also sees me as presenting with a physical disability.
I grappled with whether I should identify myself as having a disability on applications. I did not know if checking that box would cost me an interview, and many times, it felt like it did. Once during an in-person interview, I remember being asked if I had “gotten into a car accident recently”. At that time, I explained my learning disability, and the response was “does that mean you can’t read?”
I am the mom of two teenaged girls, one of whom has a disability.
My youngest daughter, Julianna, or Juls for short, was born with Down syndrome, and like many parents of a child with a disability, I found myself thrust into a whole new world. This world revolved around early intervention services, medical appointments, and learning as much as I possibly could about Down syndrome. I was discovering early-on that not only would I need to be Jul’s parent, but also her advocate.
Zoe – my color coded sixth grader with mosaic Down syndrome
By Suzanne Wingard, Director of Training, Family Connection of SC
Color has always been a part of organization in my life – from taking notes in school to sorting training handouts at work. It has visually simplified even the most complex tasks mainly because I am a visual learner. Luckily, so is my daughter.
When I was a child, I dreamed of working at the National Park Service and when an entry-level position became available, I applied for it immediately. After my interview, I had to start thinking about the words I would use to describe my learning disability if given a job offer.
Theresa Jones, M.S., CCC-SLP is the Director of Clinical Instruction and Speech/Language Services at Central Michigan University (CMU). Theresa has been a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for over 20 years. She received her Master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Howard University where she specialized in infant and toddler service delivery. She received her bachelor degree from Northwestern University in speech-language pathology. Before becoming the Director of the CMU Speech-Language Pathology clinic, Theresa worked as a clinical educator for 13 years and as an SLP with individuals through the lifespan in a variety of settings.
Erica Sommer is a special education teacher in Del Valle Independent School District, which serves students in and around Austin, Texas.
Sommer works closely with the district’s substantial English learner population, has almost 15 years of teaching experience and has been passionate about teaching for as long as she remembers. She shared with us how working with English learner students and those with disabilities has impacted her as a teacher and individual.
In addition to announcing OSEP’s new director, Laurie VanderPloeg, and interviewing Caryl Jaques at Little One’s University preschool, this October, we highlighted aspects of disability awareness for National Disability Employment, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and Down Syndrome!
October is Learning Disabilities/Dyslexia/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month
Lena McKnight was born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised in Harlem, New York. She attended public school in New York City until 10th grade and later enrolled in a YouthBuild program where she achieved a High School Equivalency Diploma. Lena then went on to graduate with an associate’s degree and later a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Sociology in May 2017. Lena has served as a Student Advocate for 10th graders through the Harlem Children Zone and remains involved with YouthBuild. She now works full time and devotes her career to serving kids in her community. Lena is committed to using her voice to have a positive impact on the field of education and on society at large.