I was sitting around a campfire, in the high desert country of southern Utah, miles from creature comforts, listening to a group of teenage boys telling their stories to me and another visiting educational consultant. They were introducing themselves and sharing the reasons why their parents sent them there. “There” was a pretty austere location in red rock country. No distractions, lots of opportunities to examine one’s life and plenty of opportunities for staff to fine tune diagnostic issues (concerning behavior).
In my introduction to them, I shared that I work with lots of kids and families who have learning differences and learning disabilities. I explained that I was visiting schools and wilderness programs that might work well with clinical/behavioral issues and issues related to learning disabilities.
Afterwards one boy asked if he could speak to me alone. With tears in his eyes he asked me if “there were schools” that he could go to “for my aftercare” that can help me with my therapy “but also deal with my dyslexia.” He also teared up when he explained how painful it was to hear that his “writing assignment” given to him by the field staff out there, was “not good enough.” He was talking to me about how much of a different and more severe struggle it was to put his thoughts down on paper than most of the other boys in the group.
This was a bit of a breakthrough moment for this boy. After letting him know that I’d be in touch with his ed consultant (I happen to know him) to communicate his thoughts and wishes, I also debriefed with his therapist.
This particular therapist and in my opinion, this particular outfit, had the perfect response. He was thrilled and moved by how this kid self-advocated, and how he opened up. Even better, the therapist was completely stoked/inspired to talk about ideas and tools that might help this kid even more. This continued a better dialogue with a group of therapists about how to connect those dots between learning struggles, how one processes and expresses information, and therapeutic tools.