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A meeting of the minds at Lord Roberts

March 3, 2023 News Story
WSD - Lord Roberts - Neurodiversity

Lord Roberts School held a Neurodiversity Celebration Day on March 2.

The educational event – an extension of the school’s annual Augmentative and Alternative Communication Day – saw Grades 1 to 6 students participate in various sensory, accessibility and communication experiences.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, neurodiversity describes the idea that “people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways” and that “there is no one right way of thinking, learning, and behaving.”

“It’s a chance to gain understanding that everyone has unique and diverse needs and different ways of communicating and living their lives,” said Carleen Lewicki, an Inclusive Education Resource Teacher.

“The more experience kids get with seeing diversity and experiencing it for themselves, the more accepting and understanding they become of others’ needs.”

The students visited five different stations setup throughout the school’s library and gym. The stations were managed by the school’s occupational therapists, speech and language pathologist, physiotherapist and inclusive education resource teachers.

At Calling All Senses, the students experienced bright light and pitch black, an array of textures and a variety of soothing and harsh noises.

At Silent Snack Bar and Guess the Smell, students used core boards and Proloquo2Go, a symbol-supported communication iPad app, to communicate their answers non-verbally.

The All embRACING station featured a race to the finish line with wheelchairs, walkers and even a handcycle, while Inclusion Promise saw the students committing to their peers in specialized programs.

“They also might realize that a strategy or a tool really works for them too, so it’s also learning about themselves,” Lewicki said. “Teachers in regular classrooms present students with multiple strategies to do math problems or to understand books, so these activities are just showing students that there’s even more ways of learning.”

Lord Roberts physiotherapist Chad Johnston managed the All embRACING station. He said the school’s commitment to inclusivity makes for caring and considerate students.

“If you have segregated classrooms and people are in special rooms by themselves, there’s a fear of the unknown, but when you’re integrated, you grow up with kids with different challenges around you all the time, so you don’t bat an eye,” Johnston said.

“The kids at Lord Roberts are already great at being inclusive, but to give them an opportunity to experience what some of there peers’ challenges are, it creates that empathy. Hopefully now they have a better insight into their fellow students.”

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