AET Conference: The 43rd Time’s a Charm

The Association of Education Therapists (AET) held their 43rd national conference on November 5 and 6 with the focus on “Advocacy in Education: Supporting Unique Learners.” Over a dozen sessions were held featuring deep explorations into neurodiversity and twice-exceptionality, as well as conversations on social justice and ethical responsibility regarding personal interactions with students, parents, and educators.

Educational therapists have always incorporated the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as part of their praxis. In the seminar held during the conference, Bibi Pirayesh of Pepperdine University and Sharmila Roy of the University of California Santa Cruz laid out ways that DEI impacts the classroom. The session delineated how advocacy for people with learning disabilities is a social justice issue, as we can see from the details of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which puts certain educational accommodations into law. The panel also explored how gifted children from marginalized cultural backgrounds have specific educational needs that are often left unaddressed by teachers and administrators.

Many of the legal ramifications regarding special education were covered in the keynote address by Peter Wright, co-founder (with his wife Pam) of the special-education advocacy site wrightslaw.com. Wright clarified the details of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which ensures that “All qualified persons with disabilities within the jurisdiction of a school district are entitled to a free appropriate public education.” This law undergirds IDEA as well as the individualized educational plans (IEPs) used in schools across the country to bring educational equity t...

 

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About Stuart Matranga

Stuart Matranga is an author and journalist who has written for Rolling Stone, Maxim, and other magazines. As a teacher, he specializes in students who are reluctant readers. Stuart has extensive experience teaching and working with twice-exceptional students.