William and Melissa Richardson are sibling who face the same challenge- learning disabilities. It had hampered them throughout much of their career until they came across online learning which helped them graduate from high school.
The methods, processes and environment of ordinary school did not suit either of them. Melissa who is now 20 started to show unusual behavior since the tender age of 2. One of those kids who do not talk even at 4 or 5, Melissa was getting verbally abused by her teachers recounts her mother who shares the same name of her daughter. “She wasn’t interacting with anyone. She was getting into a lot of trouble. Melissa was being verbally abused by her teacher, who was in her face, telling her ‘Can’t you count? One at a time?’” she recalls. Eventually diagnosed with autism Melissa also suffered from something known as auditory processing disorder. As her mother explains “The brain doesn’t process sound the way most people do…her audiologist described it as ‘take your hand, cover your mouth, and talk to someone.’ And that’s how she hears.”
Similarly Melissa’s elder brother, William, who’s now twenty-two, as an youngster was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. These disabilities impair reading and writing though he had an IQ in the genius range. For William too the experience at school was not a highly pleasant one.“When I did a good job,” William says, “it was because I cheated. That’s the only reason I was doing well that time. Some of the work would be torn up and thrown away.” he says. As if all that was not enough he also had to fight with a rare cancer in high school and had to suffer from “chemo-brain” after treatment. Virtual school made a world of difference to them and Melissa slowly started showing signs of improvement. As Tandra Allen who is associated with the University of Texas at Dallas as an expert in autism explains “This is a platform and technology that makes sense to them, their brains are able to figure out the problem-solving that’s involved with it.” Allen heads up Virtual Training research at the UT-Dallas Center for Brain Health. “Being able to log online and safely learn in an environment that’s free from distraction, free from bullies, free from social confusion — it makes sense they would be able to learn better,” according to Allen.
Due to the complications of a condition known as the chemo-brain, learning in regular school got even tougher and at the pursuance of his mother William too gave online school a shot.“I was able to pay attention, and didn’t have to deal with people yelling, screaming, using bad grammar,” William said. “Most of the time I was in the living room with my headphones on listening to music.”
Gladly for both Melissa and William they found success with this mode of education and both graduated at a June ceremony for online students. Now both of them are contemplating community colleges.
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