Our Chief Executive, Lesslie Young, looks at the importance of person-centred learning and the role voluntary organisations play to provide holistic learning support.
Learning during COVID-19
Many things have been highlighted during the pandemic. Recently there has been much discussion about the importance of learning and having that learning experience.
Of course, this has been focused on young people embarking on their university lives which they have worked hard to achieve.
The goals they set themselves, the experiences they longed for and looked forward to, changed significantly. We have seen and heard their responses.
They are not alone. They are at one end of the learning spectrum, paying for their learning experience.
There are many at the other end of the learning spectrum who have not just seen change but virtually all their learning stripped away by restrictions and how they are interpreted.
They too are paying for whatever type of learning they longed for and looked forward to. Their responses have not been so widely seen or heard as many rely on others to be their voice.
Their learning is no less valuable, no less important but in many ways much harder fought for and achieved. The reasons for that are wide and varied.
Digital tools not for everyone
Whilst digital tools have been widely embraced over the last seven months, they are not ideal for everyone. Learning a new skill and new way of communicating is a challenge and there can be other factors.
For instance, the flicking between screens on zoom can aggravate epilepsy in a small number of those with the condition and the absence of in-person social cues can make group work difficult especially with a diverse group of people.
We have gained so much experience and knowledge working with the people we support during the pandemic and the constraints associated with it. We are determined to put all that to good effect.
As we plan for the recovery from COVID-19, we will continue to develop a more bespoke working approach, utilising digital tools, telephone, one-to-one and group support.
Epilepsy and learning disability
There is a strong association between epilepsy and learning disability in some children. Between 20% and 40% of people with epilepsy also have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Having a learning disability and/or epilepsy can have a major impact on family life.
Amongst other things, the child’s memory and language skills may be impaired and this in turn may lead to difficulties with learning and education. It does not mean they cannot learn.
It can be overwhelming to care for a child with a learning disability and epilepsy and throughout COVID-19 pressure has been on parents more than ever to juggle the roles of teacher, carer and parent.
There will be shared experiences and common ground for many young people, however, Epilepsy Scotland are constantly evaluating our services to provide a range of support options for individuals and the wider family that reflects how diverse a group they are.
Why a person-centred approach is so important?
Our youth work uses some of the same person-centred wellbeing tools as teachers. The Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach supports children and young people so that they can grow up feeling loved, safe and respected and can realise their full potential at home, in school or the wider community.
We adhere to the SHANAARI factors that state every child and young person should be: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included.
Our specialist services set personalised development goals and individual action plans, to allow young people and parents to celebrate progress at every incremental step of the way, easing the transition through school and on to work and re-iterating the fact that wherever they are on the spectrum their future is bright and full of possibility.
An investment in learning pays the best interest and that investment should be made for all.