Last night, I watched my husband stress over a written exam he had to take today to complete his Aerial Fire Truck Training. He’s been in course all week doing practical and theoretical work, calculations and all the necessary “stuff” in order to operate this machine. My husband has been a career firefighter for 13 years and he is still writing written exams. The difficulty with this is that my husband is also dyslexic. And so is my 10 year old son.
So here is my dilemma: My son gets all kinds of adaptations when it comes to written and reading work. He has learning resource teachers, he has computer programs and he has his workload adapted to meet his needs. My husband, who has the same disability, does not. He is expected to perform the same written and read tasks as the next Firefighter despite his diagnosis. So are we just setting up our newest generation to EXPECT adaptations from a workforce that still uses “equal” practices, or are we EXPECTING a workforce to begin more “fair” practices for those with learning disabilities?
My son would love to follow in his daddy’s footprints as a Firefighter, but I wonder what the future would hold for him. My husband certainly didn’t get the same resources my son is currently getting when he was in school. But my son knows that he can use programs like Kurzweil instead of writing out an assignment, and that during a test, he can do it orally with the teacher instead of relying on reading and written responses. But how far will this go? In High School, there are options for him to have some work adapted. In University, probably not as much. And is the workforce adapting for the needs of all these students with the various disabilities (ADD, ODD, Dyslexia, OCD, etc) or do they expect them to be the same as everyone else?
Who is the one that needs to change: education or the workforce? This is a question I simply cannot answer. I see the wonderful skills my child is learning through all of the resources he has, but are they becoming a crutch? I see the difficulties and anxiety my husband has when he has to write a test that I know he could do “practically” in a situation, but ask him to put it to pen and paper and he folds.
To adapt, or not to adapt? That is my question.
Thanks for the ear!