Archbishop Jason Gordon will deliver the opening address at the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute’s (CREDI) two-day ‘Hidden Disabilities Conference—What you cannot see’ on Wednesday at the Government Campus, lower Richmond Street, Port of Spain.
The present education system although promoting an inclusive model has shown slow progress in catering for “all stakeholders of school age but whose educational opportunities are stymied by their challenges, both visible and invisible.” Schools are hindered by inadequate systems to facilitate early intervention and insufficient training programmes designed to help teachers deal with special needs in the classroom.
According to information from CREDI, “Exacerbating matters is the fact that there are teachers in service who are still in denial with respect to some of the challenges that some students may be experiencing—mental, physical, intellectual, sensory impairment.” The result has been an “uneven playing field with debilitating effects”.
Children are further disadvantaged by teaching which does not cater for their specific issues and challenges and assessments of their performance. CREDI stated these were “at times harsh and faulty characterisations of their attitudes and behaviour”.
The conference objectives include sensitising relevant professionals about the reality of hidden disabilities so that they can be open to and plan for innovative teaching and curricular strategies for ensuring that all children can self-actualise optimally in caring, sensitive contexts; provide a basis for administrators and caregivers to work towards the provision of infrastructure and human and technical resources that facilitate children with challenges.
The conference targets various interest groups involved in education as well as parents of children with hidden disabilities/challenges and non-governmental organisations involved in advocacy.
The first day of the conference, Wednesday will feature presentations: ‘Learning dys-abilities: Early recognition and Evidence-based methods for the classroom’, Dr Tim Conway, neuro-psychologist and educator, Morris Center Clinics, Florida and Trinidad and Tobago; ‘Local Research’, Dr Launcelot Brown, Professor and Department Chair, School of Education, Duquesne University, Pennsylvania, US and Dr Lenisa Joseph, Developmental and Early Intervention Specialist; ‘Auditory and Language Processing’, Kitts Cadette, Principal, Eshe’s Learning Centre and CREDI lecturer.
On Thursday Dr David Bratt, paediatrician presents ‘Hidden Medical Disabilities’; and Dr Madonna Wojtaszek-Healy, Hidden Disabilities Consultant and Lecturer, Illinois, US will address ‘Dealing with ADHD in the classroom’ and ‘High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome’.