Special Needs and Gifted Students Thrive in Online School
Being a teenage girl is hard. You have to look the right way, act the right way, and risk being bullied if you don’t. Add having dyslexia and a hearing disorder and things get much more challenging.
This is the case for Amelia Funk, a new Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA) student. Her mother Carrie enrolled her and her brother AJ into TXVA at the beginning of this school year after seeing them each have their own struggles in their brick-and-mortar school.
Amelia has Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which impairs her ability to process spoken information. She also has a distracting sound in her ears all the time.
“You know the snow on the TV when the sound goes out? That’s what she has in her ears all day long,” Carrie explained.
This made learning in a traditional classroom difficult for Amelia. No matter where she sat in the room, it was hard to hear the teacher or drown out noise from other students. Amelia’s dyslexia only further challenges her in school.
Now a sophomore at TXVA, Amelia is thriving. Recorded lessons allow her to review them as necessary to make sure she understands the material. Carrie can sit with her and help her through the auditory portions of the lessons and help her if she gets lost. Carrie also helps her with reading. Because of her dyslexia, when reading, Amelia will see words she doesn’t know and substitute them with words she does know that have similar meanings. Being at home with her, Carrie is able to help Amelia through reading as she needs it.
Amelia’s brother AJ struggled in their brick-and-mortar school for a different reason: he’s an gifted learner. Gifted or advanced students can often become bored in school because they’ve already mastered the material being taught and can’t move on to the next thing. Carrie said that in elementary school AJ would wake up and say, “I don’t want to go to school today, mom. There’s nothing to do there.” At TXVA, AJ is now taking two honors courses and feeling challenged.
Amelia and AJ also love TXVA because they get to do fun science experiments and interact with the teacher and students during their virtual classes. Carrie says she likes being able to easily contact their teachers and stay up-to-date on their grades. She is also grateful that Amelia’s teachers have been so helpful and accommodating to her needs.
Lauren Martin is a Writer for Learning Liftoff. Previously, she has written for nonprofits as well as marketing agencies. She's covered environmental issues, women's rights, world poverty, and animal rights. With a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Ithaca College, Lauren enjoys interviewing families about their experiences with online education.