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Diocesan educators learn about disabilities

PALM BEACH GARDENS  |  Educators involved with exceptional students education, or ESE,  programs at schools of the Diocese of Palm Beach received simulation training Sept. 20, designed to increase awareness of the difficulties and frustrations that students with various learning challenges.

Kate McConnell, vice president for student advocacy and family engagement with ADAC, presented the workshop in the Family Life Center of the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens. She explained that there is a spectrum of disabilities that today’s students are dealing with.  

“One diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is going to be displaying the challenges that are always under the umbrella of that disability,” she said. “In some cases, a child may have a completely different disability diagnosed, and two kids with two different disabilities may be having the same challenges. So, the point of this is to have people basically walk in the shoes of children with disabilities and experience what it’s like.”

Some of the disabilities that McConnell simulated for the teachers include dyslexia (difficulty reading), dysgraphia (problems with writing), hearing loss and dyscalculia, which affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and math concepts. She applauded the educators who attended the workshop for their willingness to empathize with students who are struggling.

“Our teachers and the community need to have the will and the skill. A skill is easy to teach. The will is very difficult, and I really find that this is a great way to build that will,” McConnell said. She said everyone who attended the workshop already has the will, “but our hope is that they’ll bring it back to their schools so that everyone starts to learn a little bit about what it’s like to have a disability.”

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