Neurodiversity is exactly what it sounds like. The buzzword celebrates the diversity of how people experience, interact and interpret the world around them. There is no right or wrong way. The differences are actually a competitive advantage, not a deficit.
This approach has become quite popular in educational circles as parents learn to support their children’s development. Children may be diagnosed with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it simply means they go about gathering or communicating in unique ways.
“Some parents are afraid of the assessments, labels and everything that goes with it. I understand their position, but I celebrate these points,” says Ashley Sali, the co-founder and executive director of Kelowna’s Vista Academy. “From these assessments we will understand how your child learns best. Whether they come up with an actual diagnosis or not, you’re going to learn so much about the strengths and struggles your child has.
“Then professionals can really help target these areas and you’re gonna set them up for so much success in life by just giving them a chance.”
If your child is struggling in school or has behavioural problems, Sali wants you to know there are ways to make the situation easier. She has both autism and ADHD, raises two boys with autism diagnoses and is an accomplished executive whose life revolves around neurodiversity. She knows it. She lives it.
“We can help,” she says. “It does get better. I promise. We just have to give them a chance.”
And neurodiversity-affirming education means Sali and her team at Vista Academy are not going to try to change your children. They are simply going to figure out how to help them communicate or learn in a way that is easier for them.
“I’m not making them into robots,” she says. “I am just giving them tools so they can change how they feel in their bodies so that they can communicate their needs better. If you teach your child to communicate with picture exchange or through an iPad, they’re no longer going to scream at you when they want milk.”
The Vista Academy family continues to grow, so much so that it moved into a new bigger and brighter location in Kelowna. Its non-profit learning centre is now located at #201-2333 Hunter Rd., which is the former Creator’s Arts Studio. You can check out the new space during Vista Academy’s open house on Saturday, Jan. 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ask questions, meet teachers, enter to win prizes and learn about their programs. Due to current circumstances, drop-in visits are unable to be accommodated. Visit www.VistaAcademy.org/OpenHouse to learn more and sign up for your private school tour.
The new specialized academy is equipped with a 700 square-foot multi-purpose sensory room (the largest in the Interior), a kitchen for their Life Skills program, spacious classrooms and individual workrooms specifically designed to create an ideal learning environment for children 12 months and older.
“You have an option. There's always an answer,” Sali says. “And you don’t have to be scared, worried or frustrated. We can help with some of those ‘what ifs.’ We’re here to support you, and once you join the team you're part of the family.”
Using a comprehensive and holistic approach to education, Vista Academy equips students and their families with the skills needed to succeed and thrive, whether in school or out in the community.
Vista Academy is also listed as an essential service, so you do not need to worry about disrupting your kids’ routines during constantly changing times due to the pandemic.
If you have questions or need help booking your private tour at Vista Academy, contact Sali at [email protected] or 250-300-0763.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.