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New Brunswick mother speaks out about lack of learning disability resources in schools – New Brunswick | Globalnews.ca

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Fredericton mother Laurel Richmond is busy, homeschooling her son and working part-time as a clinical psychologist.

She said she took her son out of public school in three years ago because the school he used to attend didn’t give him the resources he needed as a child with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

She said he first noticed he was different in Grade 1.

“He was saying that he was stupid, he said that all the other kids were learning how to read and he was not catching on as quickly,” she said.

But it was the comment of one of his teachers that really struck her.

“She said, ‘I can’t teach a child who isn’t willing to learn.’ … The way that comes across is that she was giving up on my son,” Richmond said.

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She had her son independently tested, where he was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. After that, she said the resources the school provided were out of date, so she decided to homeschool him with the help of a specialized tutor.


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“He’s made tremendous progress because these kids, they have normal intelligence, they’re able to do some pretty incredible things,” she said.

She said she’s talked to more than 40 parents who have also struggled to access resources for their children.

Pockets of schools where families struggle

Ainsley Congdon, the executive director of the Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick, said support for students with learning disabilities varies around the province.

“There are pockets of schools where families are really quite struggling,” she said.

She says adequate support can depend on the level of training a teacher received or the resources a school has access to. Some teachers also confuse learning and intellectual disabilities — students with learning disabilities typically have a standard IQ, but require accommodations.

Without those accommodations, they can struggle.

“The gap will continue to grow, and they never quite catch up or reach grade level,” she said.

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She added that the gap can be closed in adulthood.

Mental health concerns

In addition to homeschooling, Richmond is a part-time clinical psychologist. She worries about the trauma that people may experience when they’re not properly supported.

“This has been a problem for years. I work with a lot of people who have undiagnosed ADHD and dyslexia and dysgraphia, who are having mental health problems even today,” she said.

Congdon said there’s a huge connection between mental health and learning disabilities.

She encourages parents who want more resources for their children to understand learning disability policies.

“I think it’s really important that parents have an honest conversation with the classroom teacher,” she said.

If the teacher isn’t receptive, then she recommends reaching out to the principal and administration, and ultimately the district. The association also helps parents develop personal learning plans for students and provides tutoring.

Richmond said she’s speaking out now for the sake of all the parents who don’t have the resources to do what she did.

“What about all the families that don’t get this? Or don’t understand this, or don’t specialize in this?” she said.

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The New Brunswick Education Department did not respond by deadline to a request for an interview.

 

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