Did you know the way to address a student with special needs is to do so by naming the student first and then their learning difference? Were you aware that order matters?


Many times I encounter people who refer to a student as “dyslexic” or “my ADHD kid.” I know most people don’t have intent for what they are conveying, but the language does matter. By coining a human as a “dyslexic person,” it provides a message that the student is first dyslexic and then something else.


It is valuable whenever thinking about a student – especially one with a learning difference to think about that person’s strengths and talents as well as the contexts in which the student learns. Capturing a full snapshot of a student’s experience and functioning is essential in understanding potential.


Let’s employ the same approach when we think about educational planning for students who do not fit into typical educational profiles. Let’s work to understand all aspects of a child’s learning and potential. Our end game is to teach children about themselves, how their brains learn best, and how to tap into their potential. In order to do this, we must be curious about how the student thinks and moves through the world within different areas.


I invite you to entertain these questions about your child to get you started on your own journey of thinking about your unique child’s educational experience.


  1. Where is my child innately curious?
  2. What strengths does my child exhibit in language, art, music, math, science, history, sports, social, emotional, introspection, philosophy, etc.
  3. What do I notice my child struggling to do? How much of a struggle are these activities or processes? Do these struggles interfere with the goals I have for my child or my child’s self-esteem, and to what extent? (sometimes struggles are completely normal and okay)
  4. What is my end game? When my child is 18, what do I hope to have instilled in my child?
  5. What goals do I have?
  6. What goals does my child have? Do they match mine?


Think about your “child with ….”, recognize strengths and talents, and let them shine! Address areas of challenge head-on. Evolve your child’s ability to handle any struggle and obstacle – ultimately tapping into their potential to thrive.


If you want some help to learn about your child and what is possible within his/her/their educational experience, contact me and we’ll make a plan together!


About the Author:

I am so excited to be joining NYC Admissions Solutions as an education consultant specializing in placement for students with special needs and/or those who need alternative placements. I have spent the past 21 years working in the field of special education with students from Nursery through College in New York City and I am also a parent of three school-aged children who all attend excellent schools. I am so very interested in making sure that each and every student has the opportunity to be educated in the very best possible educational setting for their holistic needs. Wish to talk about your child with me? Contact me, Mary Miele, to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation at mmiele@nycadmissionssolutions.com.