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May 23, 2022

Episode 48: The Neurodiverse Child: Tools, Tips & Strategies for Success with Delphine Rule

In this episode, DJ speaks with Delphine Rule… teacher, administrator, advocate, person with a disability and a parent of children with learning disabilities. Listen in as Delphine talks about her passion in supporting families and educators to help everyone get past the labels and limiting beliefs when you have a child who is neurodiverse. Stay tuned to hear them discuss getting past the diagnosis grieving process and the hurdles so you can work on implementing strategies and therapies and access the resources available to you.

Delphine is a mother of 3, a person with Dyslexia and a school board administrator. Early on she was diagnosed with Dyslexia and has overcome many obstacles to accomplish her goals. Delphine now owns Access2Education and works as an educational consultant and advocate for families with children with neurodiversity. She began this work after struggling to find support and assistance when her own two older children were diagnosed with learning disabilities. Her knowledge as a person with a disability, an administrator, an educator and most importantly a mother to 2 children with learning needs allows for understanding on many angles. Using her personal and professional knowledge Delphine helps families find their road to success for their children.

• [2:24] Delphine, a teacher and administrator, shares her own personal story of having dyslexia and 2 children with learning disabilities…
• [10:46] “I think there is a part of us as parents who, quite honestly, we feel like the label of ADHD, of learning disability… is a frightening thing.“
• [21:24] “They arrive to you in this little package and you have this vision in your head of what it's going to be… and it's going to be all the sunshine and roses and it isn't.”
• [27:41] Delphine shares the importance of finding your support team to ensure the success of your child.

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Guest Information

Delphine Rule


DJ Stutz  0:13  
Just so you know, the following Podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA. You're listening to Episode 48 of Imperfect Heroes, Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. And I'm your host DJ Stutz. Delphine Rule is a mother of three. She's a person with dyslexia, and a school board administrator. Early on, she was diagnosed with dyslexia, and has overcome many obstacles to accomplish her goals. Delphine now owns an organization called Access 2 Education. And so that's Access the number 2 and then Education. And she works as an educational consultant and advocate for families with children with neurodiversity. What is neuro diversity? It's just kids that think and process a little differently than our typical childhood, or typical adult, or adults who have lots of neurodiversity as well. She began this work after struggling to find support and assistance with her own two children who were diagnosed with learning disabilities. And her knowledge as a person with a disability herself. And as an administrator, and educator and most importantly, as a mother to to children with learning needs, allows for understanding the many different angles that get involved here. And using her personal and professional knowledge. Delphine helps families find their road to success for their children. And there's so much to learn. So let's get started.

Delphine Rule thanks for spending some time with Imperfect Heroes.

Delphine Rule  2:12  
Thanks for having me, DJ, I appreciate it. I'm excited.

DJ Stutz  2:14  
I am too. So why don't you just tell us a little bit about your specialty and what you do and what we're going to share today.

Delphine Rule  2:24  
I love it when people say just tell us a little bit. I'm like, Oh, how do I tell you just a little bit? There's so much to say. What do I do? I do a lot of things. I wear many hats. I sometimes think there's too many of them. But we learned to juggle. I mean, my honestly my my biggest thing is I'm a mom of three, I have a 12 year old, 10 year old and a six year old. So my house is busy of those three to my boys, my two eldest, my 12 and 10 year old. Both have they're sort of three times exceptional, if you will. So they have dyslexia. They have ADHD, one is combined and one is inattentive. So it's interesting to the two perspectives. Yeah, and they both have general anxiety disorder, but it comes out in different ways for both of them. I don't know what my six year old has in store for me yet. I'm sure there'll be something, but I haven't found it yet. So we're waiting. I'm a teacher. I'm an administrator in a school. I just started that pre pandemic. So there we go, throwing feet to the fire. And I'm also a person with a learning disability came up through the school system. I was diagnosed very early on, I was about seven when the diagnosis happened. And I've known about it since the beginning parents were pretty open with me about it, which was great. But now what I do in my spare time haha is I support families in advocating in the education system up here in Canada specifically in Ontario, it's not something that I find is well looked for sought out here in Ontario, I know you're down in the US. And in the US, it's very common to have education consultants who come and support families and advocating for their children and the things that they need. But it certainly seems to be less known here in Canada in Ontario, although that is changing. There are several of us now I actually just spent the day at an M symposium today about we just had a really exciting document called the right to read, which was by our Ontario Human Rights Council, saying that it is actually a human right to learn to read and to be taught how to read. And there are there were 157 recommendations that came out in this report. And so today's symposium that I listened in on today was all about unpacking the report and why we need to teach using the science of reading. And many, many, many, many, many of the speakers today. Interestingly, we're all from the US and lots of research coming out of the US about reading and how reading happens and what we should be doing and how we here in Ontario need to change our practice. And it's not that we have been doing a disservice to our students. It's not that we've been doing it wrong. It's just that we now know better, and we need to do better. So that's the long winded way of saying, I'm a teacher. I'm a mom, I'm an administrator. I'm an advocate, I'm a person with a disability. I'm a parent with children with learning disabilities. And I just I've got a real passion and a soft spot in my life in my heart in my world, for supporting families and children and educators and the system as a whole to understand that, yeah, their struggles. But there's also so many wonderful things from our children who think differently, and we just need to take a beat, take a breath, take a minute, and we just need to be a team and the child needs to be in the center. And we all need to link arms around that child to get them propelled in the right direction.

DJ Stutz  5:40  
I agree. It's interesting, though, too. Sometimes we just need someone who looks at things differently to find the answer that's going to really click and work. I mean, how many people that are billionaires are ADHD, or they've got something going on. And they don't just think outside of the box, they live outside of the box. And I think that's what enables them to look at a problem in a completely different way, and then move forward with it. And if they've got that age part, they've got the energy to do it. So

Delphine Rule  6:18  
yeah, for sure. And I often kind of relate this and say, wouldn't it be boring if we all thought the same way? Wouldn't it be boring if all of our brains were the same? You know, nobody would think differently, nobody would have a different opinion or a different way of putting puzzles together. I'm a puzzle doer. I'm a puzzle thinker. I did puzzles still do them. methodically, I find them relaxing and calming. I have other people who are like, Oh, I hate doing puzzles, trying to match all the pieces and the colors and the thing. But for me, I can see it, I can visually see how the pieces connect, I'm able to connect to those pieces. Not everybody can. But what that allows me to do in the in the work that I do inside of a school is I can kind of take the pieces of what's happening in our building on a day to day basis and go, Okay, this is coming. Now I can slot this piece into here and I can sort of problem solvers we go. Everybody's got their strength, and listen, math isn't my strength, reading and writing, not my strength, but problem solving, anticipating, you know, kind of figuring out what's what's maybe coming up, I would say is something that I do well, you know, school wasn't always a lot of fun. My parents kind of chuckle and think, Oh, well, you hated school all through your your schooling. And here you are, you know, you go to school every day. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, you know, it wasn't always a great place. But I certainly had opportunities. I had teachers who took a chance on me, I had teachers who propelled me I had teachers who didn't believe in me, I had lots of teachers who were like, No, you shouldn't do this. And you shouldn't do that. I mean, I had a math. In my teacher training course in Australia, I actually had a math teacher who told me that my problem with math was all in my head, when I told him that I was dyslexic. And what he had me do was draw a circle on the chalkboard, and he said, See, you drew a perfect circle, you're a genius. And I was like, I'm not sure you understand what I just said to you. We'll just keep moving forward. Right, right. So I grew up, I learned and so now, when I deal with staff, and parents, I think in terms of being an advocate, what it is when I come into meetings with families is that I'm a third party, I'm a neutral person, right? I'm not invested in the school, I'm invested in my client 100%. And I know what my client wants. But when you bring in an advocate with you, it gives you a neutral third party who can kind of help everybody see everyone's perspective, because I will have done the legwork with the families prior to going into these meetings where we've talked about what is it from their perspective that they perceive or think the school is trying to do hasn't done isn't doing all of those things? And then what is the school's perspective of things and to some extent, I have a very deep understanding of that. And then as an advocate, it allows me to come in and say, okay, the parents are feeling this way about it. You would like this to happen, how can we all work together? Right. And I think that that's the glorious thing about being able to have an advocate, whether that's an advocate who, you know, you've invested in, like myself or other education consultants who are out there. But even if you just bring a friend, a family member, it doesn't matter who comes to those meetings, but sometimes the school meetings can be nerve racking, they can be intimidating, all of those things. And so it's just so great when can have the support of other people to help you get over whatever the hurdle or the hump is that is causing the stress anxiety and is making everybody feel like you're not working as a team.

DJ Stutz  9:51  
Right? Absolutely. So my youngest son, the number four, the five, super ADHD, my talked about this on other podcasts. But when we took him to a pediatric neurologist in the sixth grade, I was kind of in denial about the ADHD thing, because I felt like it was being way overly diagnosed. And I had seen it as an educator, I had seen other teachers use it as an excuse for those kids, Ah, he's ADHD, we can't do anything with him. I'd seen kids use it as an excuse. And I'd seen parents use it as an excuse. And I didn't want any of that available. So when we wound up taking them to the pediatric neurologist, and he said, I've treated about 3000 kids with ADHD, your son's in my top five? Yeah, it's

Delphine Rule  10:46  
hard as a parent to hear that. And I think you're right, I think there is a part of us as parents who, quite honestly, we feel like the label of ADHD, of learning disability of whatever it is, is a frightening thing. I think parents are very fearful that once you label the child, it means that they can't go to their choice of high schools, they can't go to their choice of university or colleges, they can't get their choice of jobs, they can't whatever. But I think we need to stop putting limits. Because that's a very limiting belief, it's very much the idea of because there is a different way of the brain to think it means that they can't succeed like every other kid. I don't think that's true. I think that everybody has a way of getting to where they need to be. And it's not easy, like, I mean, none of us with learning disabilities, or physical disabilities, or anything would say, No, it's not super easy. I mean, you know, let's take glasses is a perfect example. If you don't have your glasses with you, it's super hard to see the clock to get up in the morning. But if you figure out the tools and tricks and strategies that can allow you to be successful, so maybe you get glasses, maybe you have a Siri clock that tells you the time, right? I don't know, right? I'm sort of those sorts of strategies and things that allow you to become a successful person. So I think what's important for kids and your son's example is a good one of having a really concise team around your son who can say to him, Hey, kiddo, we know you struggle with sitting still paying attention following directions. So to help you with that, we're going to give you two step directions at a time to help you with that, you can have a wiggle seat instead of a traditional chair, right? Tiny little things. Yeah, that can make a huge amount of difference. But here's the thing, it doesn't just have to be done for your son or the other child, it could be done for any of the kids in class. Because that two step direction can actually apply to another kid who you don't know is struggling. That wobble seat could work for another kid, who you don't know, is maybe anxious that day or just likes things that move. So there used to be I remember as a kid, like, I was one of the first kids in my high school who had a laptop. Oh, wow. Or a computer or something. I don't know, anyway, with some tech thing that I was like, very much like, I'm not using this, this is gonna make me stand out like a sore thumb. Everybody's gonna know that I'm different. Like, I'm not gaming for that. But honestly, now, in the time that we're in, both my boys have wobble seats. They have fidget toys. They use calculators all the time. They have their phones, where they're constantly doing Siri, they're doing voice to text all the time. They've got laptops, but guess what? So is 95% of their class, right? Till nobody notices anymore. And let's talk about when we get to the working world. How many people work on a computer every day? I mean, nearly every single one of us unless you're working in a trade where you're using your hands, but even there? Yeah. When you look at engineers, when they're doing their mapping out of stuff, it's all on computers. It's all electronic. And how awesome is it that we've been able to or that technology has evolved to the point at which it is accessible to nearly everyone, because I would say there is a part of the population who can't necessarily access it, access it as well as they would like to or that would make it more open to them. But it looked at all these wonderful things that it's done for us. Right? We have to stop limiting. We just have to stop limiting kids.

DJ Stutz  14:37  
It's speaking of the technology that's available. So this year, and last year, I usually taught kindergarten I'm a kindergarten lady, but this year and last year, they asked me to take on this preschool that has mostly IEP kids, and I don't know do you use IEP as the term Yeah,

Delphine Rule  15:00  
not that young, we wouldn't do preschool like. So there's a new philosophy, we basically don't do IEPs until at grade three or grade four now we try not to Yeah,

DJ Stutz  15:10  
well, we are doing them at age three. Oh my gosh, yeah. So, so I've got things from autism and reactive attachment disorder, and, and then I've even got a little student that is not even walking, yet she's nonverbal. We know she's way behind cognitively. But we don't know how far. And the more we're working with her, we're finding out that there's more going on than we thought. But the cool thing is that we have this thing, and we're trying to teach her to use technology to help her communicate. And so she has this big, we call it the hamburger, it's a big red button. And when she wants more, so whether it's like a video that or a dance that the class is doing, or whatever, and will freeze, it will stop. And then she can hit the More button. And then she's learning Oh, when I hit that I get what I want. And so technology is reaching, even those with the largest disabilities that are going on.

Delphine Rule  16:22  
I heard an interesting interview yesterday on the radio. He's young, he's 3030, or 33, he has ALS. And he lost all ability to communicate for awhile, he couldn't least communicate with his eyes, he can't even do that anymore. He worked with researchers in I want to say was India, I could be wrong. And I don't know all the specifics. But I remember listening very intently to this because I thought this is really cool. The family agreed to have this person be involved in this study. And they've actually wired parts of his brain to work with his eyes, which is the only part of his body that is left functioning from his ALS disease. And he's able to give out sentences now about what he needs. And the first thing he said upon the test upon having it all put in was, can somebody please adjust my pillows? Wow. Right? Like it was just so cool to me that there was a way to like somehow wire the brain to be able to communicate in a different way. But again, that's the use of technology. It's the use of scientists, it's the use of again, the thinking outside of the box, right? How can we continue to use the tools and mechanisms that we have to give someone who's trapped in their body? A way to communicate? Right? Absolutely. Pretty cool.

DJ Stutz  17:40  
It's very cool. So I didn't know about you, when I've worked with parents. And even when I did kindergarten, I was working. You know, you always have kids with some varying levels of disability, especially with us wanting to have kids in the general public classes. And they it's amazing the growth that I see when they're put in with typical kids. But I've kind of noticed that very generally speaking, that I see three basic reactions with parents when they are working with a new diagnosis on their child. And I don't know, let me know if you run into these, but one is the parent that's totally in denial, not my that would be me. Totally in denial, not my kid, he's just or she's just this or that, or whatever. Then there's the parent that was like, oh, okay, well, what's the next step? And how do we move forward? And then sometimes I will get the parent that is so excited that they have this special needs kid because then they I don't know, they demand so much more. And it's kind of like now they're the center of attention rather than the child does that.

Delphine Rule  19:12  
Do you? Yeah, it does. I think there's a couple different ways to look at it. I mean, when I even look back at, at my own situation with my own boys, I mean, with my eldest, it started in preschool, he wasn't able to follow direction. He wouldn't sit in class. He was running all over the place. He was just, and he was, well, it was even improper. It was nursery school. I remember he down the street and he would hit other kids just out of nowhere, like there just was no it was really difficult. Anyway, the problem with my eldest was that he started to speak very early. He was speaking at about 18 months old. He was speaking quite early, and so it gave the impression that he was maybe older than he was a good handle more than he could and then he couldn't anyway, because at that Time. And, you know, I mean, I still do, but at the time, I was working in special education. And so I was very aware. And so I was very quick to begin the process of speaking to our family doctor, going to see a developmental pediatrician. And getting that assessment done and finding the markers and the markers for autism were very quickly said, No, they're not there. Interestingly, when my eldest did enter kindergarten, he was very quickly labeled as autistic because of his tantrums because of his outbursts. The school had sort of decided that this was the thing and I had to work very hard to say to them no, this document this assessment from the pediatric developmental doctors says that, you know, there are actually no markers for that. The markers are for ADHD and a potential for learning disability. And because of my own family history, we knew that there was always that chance. Right. So I think that allowed me to kind of be on it a bit. But I think you're right, I think we do get different variations of parents when diagnosis is are provided. So you get the parent who very much is in denial, that it is a thing that they need to do anything, moving them forward, to try and get them to understand that no, actually, the sooner you can implement strategies, the sooner you can put therapies in place, the sooner you can access resources, the better off but it's very hard, it's a grieving process. Yeah,

DJ Stutz  21:24  
it really is.

Delphine Rule  21:24  
A lot of these parents is a grieving process, because I think these children are given to us, we receive them, whether they're your own biological children, or whether they're children, you've adopted, right? They arrive to you in this little package, and you have this vision in your head of what it's going to be and it's going to be all the sunshine and roses in it. It isn't it isn't. And we all have these things, right. But we all think about the potential of our children, and we all want them to be and I'm using air quotes here. Not that anybody can see them. But normal, whatever that means, right? We don't want them to be the problem child, we don't want them to be different from their peers, we want them to be able to interact socially and emotionally with the world. And then when you're presented with a hurdle that you are not anticipating, it can be very frightening. And so the easiest way is to be like, Oh, I'm not going to think that it's not gonna happen. But then yeah, I think you then do get the parent who is over the top about what is needed and what is required and can seem very pushy, and very, I want everything, and it's all about my child. And there's nothing else going on in this that in the other. But I actually just think that's the parent being afraid. For me, when I see that, I see that as the parent being fearful that they don't know what to do, because they've been presented with something that seems overwhelming. And that if everybody can kind of rally a little bit that might help kind of bring it down and the focus comes off. But it's also a personality thing, right? Like, I think sometimes it just comes down to

DJ Stutz  22:58  
I mean, I've got I've had parents, and there's one this year in the class next door, that they've just said, Mike never tell my child no, my child never hears the word no. And better, not, you know, kind of a thing. And then insisting that the behavior problems that have ensued are special needs when we've done the assessments and all of that, and like you say the markers just aren't there. Yeah. And so that's, I guess, kind of what I was thinking of when I said that,

Delphine Rule  23:35  
it's hard to because I find what is so important when we talk about children, whether they're in preschool, whether they're in school itself, it's that connection between home and school. So are the expectations and the boundaries at home, similar to or the same as what is at school. So for example, at school, it is not okay to stand up on the desk and do a jig, right? That is not permitted. And for a number of reasons, we would say to the child, sorry, Catherine, that's not okay. You have to get off the table. Right, and the negotiation would then ensue, but getting off the table. Well, that behavior, at least in my house would not be tolerated. That would not be okay. The discussion would be for a number of reasons, not the least of which you always come walking in and out of the house and sock feet, you are not then going to get on the table with your dirty sock feet and dance all over my table. Right? We eat. Right? And so those boundaries would be in place. And so the same would be at school, but if the boundaries at school at home are polar opposites from each other. The poor child and listen, I'm not a psychologist, right? I'm a parent and an educator. So Right. As I'm saying this, remember, not a psychologist, just a parent, an educator. But the poor child, they're then stuck in the middle Between a world that says, Yep, go ahead, do whatever you want and a world that says, oh, no, hold on a minute. There's a boundary here and you've pushed it. And I'm now going to tell you where the boundary is. And let's be honest, a couple things kids really need. They need consistency. And they very much need boundaries. Absolutely. They do know, what is the limit? Why do you think children try and get out of bed a million times that first night you put them into the bed that has no walls on it? Right? When I take them out of their crib, that first night, maybe the first night is okay, because they don't realize they can get out the night they figure out they can? How many times do they get into bed? They're testing your boundary they're trying to see, okay, if I get up, are mum and dad gonna make me go to bed? Well, how many times are they going to make me go back to bed, if I get up once, if I get up twice, if I get up 100 times. And that's that old adage of just taking them by the hand leading them into bed saying nothing, putting them into bed, tucking them in and leaving again. Right? It's that whole idea? So yeah, I think that the relationship between home and school or home and daycare or daycare, home and school, right? If you're one of those kids that has that triple, that triple triangle, right? It's really important in the school that I'm in, we have a daycare in the building, and there's a couple of kids, I often will go and speak to the daycare teachers and say, Hey, we're struggling with this, like, what have you seen? What are you doing? So that if nothing else, there's consistency between daycare and school that at least removes one unknown? In terms of consistency, if that makes any sense? Oh, it absolutely

DJ Stutz  26:36  
does. We've had kids that come to our preschool, and then go on a bus to a childcare. And we've actually had teachers and specialists actually go and observe the child in that childcare setting. Talk to the teachers, how are we working? What's going on with this little guy or gal, and then collaborating. If you see stuff like that going on with your child, you've got to feel like you're in a good place with your child's teachers and the situation that, honestly, you choose what childcare they're going, you choose which preschool, they're going, I don't know, in Colorado, there's open enrollment. And so the child didn't get to choose. Right. So this is a situation you've put your child into. And if you see these kinds of things going on, you got to feel good about it.

Delphine Rule  27:41  
Yeah. And I think that's the biggest thing is that remembering at the end of the day, I mean, if there's parents who are listening today, and they're feeling like they don't, they don't have support, or they don't know what's going on, or they're just feeling lost, you need to get to a place where you feel like you have a team behind you. And that team needs to include all of the educators in your children's lives, whether they're teachers, whether they're preschool teachers, whether they're daycare teachers, whether they're administrators, tutors, it doesn't matter. Whoever is there to support your family and your child in the support of ensuring the success of your child, you all need to be on the same page. And if any one of those team members, or any one of those support, people are not on board with you as a parent, or if you have drastically different ideas from the school or from whatever, if you all can't come to a happy medium decision of okay, we can't follow that. But we could maybe do this and that meets everyone in the middle. If you're not getting that support, then I really think you need to look elsewhere. And I've certainly done it with my own children. I wasn't getting enough for one of my kiddos. We've moved him schools where we're now getting a better fit. The Fit isn't always perfect on the first try. Right? It just isn't. Yep. It's like finding a family doctor, you got to find the person you trust, and you're willing to kind of bury your soul to, you know what I mean? And educators and teachers need to remember that parents are entrusting us with their children. That's a huge responsibility. Right? And it means that we have to work with these families. And it means you have to do a bit of negotiating, you have to do a little bit of planning, you have to do a little bit of okay, I'll meet you in the middle. I don't agree. But I will try and meet you somewhere, right? The end of the day, these kids have to go home to their parents in the evenings and on weekends and on holidays. And everybody's got to figure out a way to make it work and it's not always perfect. It just isn't it can't be but where it works and when it works. It can work really well. What are

DJ Stutz  29:47  
the things that you said that really kind of put some thoughts into my mind you were talking about the connection with maybe a tutor and your child? What you do in my mind is kind of like a tutor for the parents. And you're tutoring them in what's available, how to address it, all of that kind of stuff. And fat is such an important role. And I think that's something that often will get overlooked.

Delphine Rule  30:19  
Part of what I want to do, and I'll tell you, I mean, I'll give you the really personal situation of why I started doing what I'm doing. But my goal with my access to education work that I do up here is really to take the load off the parent. What happens when you are given a diagnosis of a child is you get an I call it you get stuck in the Google rabbit hole. You start putting in the diagnosis, you start putting in for resources, you start looking, where can I find it, I need this and I need that or you're up at all night, the teacher said that he had three tantrums and I don't understand what the tantrums are about. And they're sending me these charts about the behavior, but I can't connect The next in the paperwork, right? It makes sense to the educators because they use them all the time. But as parents are like foreign entity stuff. And this is just remember, for a minute, when I was going through this with my first child, I was in education, I was in special education. And I still was having trouble connecting the dots. I was exhausted, I was up all night worrying about him, I was telling my husband, I don't know what we're gonna do with this kid, he's gonna go to jail. We can't like, I had all of the like, and my kid was like, I think he was eight or nine at this point, right? Like, I have worst case scenarios in my head. So my goal with access to education is to your point to be the tutor, the coach and the guide for these families and say, Listen, you gave me your questions. You tell me what you want to know, I will walk you through it. Here's where I think you should go. And a lot of the times, I recommend resources and agencies that I either myself have tested, right and been a part of because I know that they're worth the time and the energy, right, I'm not going to send family somewhere that I don't think they should be going. But I also through my career as an educator have met many people who work within the industry within the province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto, where I live in the extended areas who have some fabulous philosophies that I think would mesh well with those families. So I listen to the families, I get to know them. In the course of six months, I speak to a family between four to six times we have four to six one hour meetings, that's a fair number of meetings where I get to know them pretty well. And I get to understand what it is their child needs and what they as a family need. Which then really says to me, oh, you know what, I think you really like this therapist, or you'd really like to go and work with this clinic. Because I know that they're worth going to, instead of these poor families spending hours trying to read Google reviews and trying to you know, talk to other people. I got it, it's all here, it's all in a document that they get becomes their personal guide and step by step map to getting through this bump in the road. Once this bump is over, there will probably be down the road. But it fluctuates with these kiddos right? It absolutely does. Right. Right, when you think you figured it out, they throw you another curveball. But that really is my goal. And what I strive to do is to tutor them and guide them and support them through a process that can be overwhelming and frightening and scary. And you feel like a deer in headlights because there's everything coming at you. And it's sometimes really hard to make sense of what is the information I really need to pay attention to? And what is the information? I can just kind of say, Ah, I'll get to it later.

DJ Stutz  33:41  
Right. Another thing that I see parents, and I'm talking to parents and trying to help them get things coordinated. Is there sometimes a frustration when they have multiple services. And they have multiple coordination of Yes. And so what one person is telling them to do doesn't jive with what the other specialist is telling them to do. And they just get so confused. I know that we try whenever we're meeting with the parent to get everyone that's involved at the table sitting down. It's not always possible, but we do it as much as we can. And that helps. What are some other options or what are some of the things that you think could help us situation.

Delphine Rule  34:29  
So one of the things I do there for families as I tend to try and become sort of the case manager. Yeah. So that I'm kind of managing all of those moving parts. And when I know there are meetings coming up, I will try and schedule those people into the same meetings. Or we try and create sort of case conference meetings where the family and all of the practitioners are together. And I'll tell you the best thing that I've been able to do of late is to find families clinics that have everybody in one spot Yeah, what's happening up here right now, and I don't know if it's happening in the States, but it is happening up here, especially in Toronto, I'm noticing it more and more, and I'm loving that people are doing this. They're creating clinics that within the clinic, you have all of the people you would need. So you have the psychologists, the psychotherapist, the occupational therapists, the physical therapist, the speech language pathologists, all of the experts that you would need to support you through this process are under one roof. What that does is it does two things a, it means parents don't need to go to 12 different locations, right, and 12 different doctors and offices to get what they mean. But it also means that because those clinicians are working under the same roof, they're all sharing one file. Yeah, all continuing right. And you're not having one I remember having to carry files from sick kids to my family doctor to the clinic, where we did occupational therapy to the speech language pathologist, like it was I mean, he I had like a binder that was full of stuff to carry around was the biggest pain in the butt. And eventually, I found a clinic where everybody was under one roof. And I was like, Okay, well, I'm parking my butt here. And I'm not going anywhere. Like, you know, all of the therapies, all of the groups that my kids did, we're all under that. Listen, it's not a perfect environment, it doesn't work all over the place. But I will say that where families are able to find clinics that are all under one roof, that really simplifies things.

DJ Stutz  36:28  
In the States, it really depends on what state what county what school district you're in, because they're all very widely the school district that I'm working in right now, with at least our pre K program. So I have it as a speech language pathologist, and I have a social emotional coach, and I have an occupational therapist and a physical therapist, and there's a psychologist that we can have on the team, if that's warranted, I don't have any one this year that needs that. But so they're all at the school. And so they're all talking to each other, and me. And we're so we're all able to kind of combine that. And then we're also able, if parent will sign the form so that we can talk to any outside people, but we really work hard to talk to those. I've got one kiddo. And his therapist wanted to come and see him in the classroom and work with him there. And I'm like, yeah, come on in. So we just got the right paperwork signed. And so now even the outside is coming into that school environment, and talking to the people who are providing services there.

Delphine Rule  37:51  
We have something similar here. And most school boards, I would imagine, have it but we certainly do here in Ontario, where a lot of school boards have within the school board. Obviously, they have speech language pathologists, they have psychologist, they have social workers who can help with some of that stuff. But they're usually connected to agencies that provide occupational therapy, speech therapy, you know, all those sorts of things. But what's nice is that often there are monthly meetings with all of these team people together. And we sort of discussed and it includes the teacher, it includes the administration of the school, but it also includes parents. Yeah. And what's really important is that when parents are invited to school meetings, that you go, I know it's hard, we're all working, you have to take time off of work, it's awkward to ask for the time off. But here's something that has been really good about pandemic because it's even been good for me, my own kids, that we have moved to a lot of virtual meetings. And it means that I didn't have to take a half day off to go to a meeting for my kiddo. I could say to my bosses or my principal, in my case in my school and say, Listen, I've got a meeting for my kid for a half hour. For half an hour, I'm going to be in my office and I'm sorry, I'm miaa but it meant I didn't have to take a half day off. I'm even gonna go out on a bit of a limb and say that some resources have become a little bit more accessible. So things like tutoring. Here in Toronto, we're quite lucky. We have a number of tutors, but I have some clients who are well outside of the city where there is not as much access to tutors specifically in Orton Gillingham, Barton or Wilson trained tutors, very specific type of tutoring that has provided for children with dyslexia reading difficulties, because it's very targeted. It's very structured. There are some tutors, but there aren't a lot of them. But what it has meant is some of my clients who are outside of the boundaries of the City of Toronto, we're getting to a physical tutor isn't possible because they're, you know, an hour's drive or more, right? They've been able to access tutors for these programs from home. Listen, it's not the same online. It's not the same interaction, but it's providing The same benefits. And so it's just you, we got to use some of what we've learned over the last two years. And if we haven't learned anything from it, that's really sad. But we have to learn to use some of what we've gotten. So I'm losing my train of thought of where we were going with this conversation. But just to say, like, as parents, when you're presented the opportunity to meet with team members, try and get them all together. Like when a school says, Hey, we're going to have a meeting about your kiddo. Ask the question, hey, could I bring their occupational therapist? Could I bring the psychologist we've been working with? Could I bring the natural path? I mean, I did naturopath for a while for my kids, because I was trying to find something other than typical medication for ADHD for my kids. It doesn't hurt to ask, and what it does for me as an educator, and as an administrator, when you bring those other people in, I hear a different perspective. I start to see oh, wow, these parents are really trying to figure this out. I'm not saying all parents aren't even if you don't, you all are trying to figure it out. But it allows me to kind of get different perspectives from other experts who have been dealing with your child and your family, which then helps us as a school, build the right plan to get you to the right spot.

DJ Stutz  41:17  
Right. I totally agree with you on that. The more communication, the more transparency, the better. So yeah,

Delphine Rule  41:28  
and I mean, if you get documentation, and you don't want to share the whole report, then don't share the whole report. But share the diagnosis at least right. And if you're not going to share the specific numbers, there's nothing worse than keeping the information secret. And then we all sit here as educators and go, What the heck is going on here, like this isn't we don't know how to attend. And we're all trying to reinvent a wheel that doesn't need reinventing it. I don't know, it just doesn't help anybody.

DJ Stutz  41:57  
Right? Absolutely. It doesn't. And most importantly, it's not helping your kid. No, it's not. It's not to me, the kids the bottom line? Well, because then we

Delphine Rule  42:09  
you know, as the people who work with that child unpredictable, you don't really understand, Okay, well, let's try this, well, then the child gets frustrated, cuz that's not the thing they want. But we don't know what the key is that unlocks the thing they want, but you're holding the key is the parent, that piece of paper. That is the psychological report that gives the diagnosis that gives all the information. That's the key. And once you give us that we can unlock doors, and we can open treasure boxes, and we can like there's all these things we can do. But if you keep the information, it's very difficult. And it's hard to share. It's very personal. teachers, educators, therapists, whoever's getting this information, you're being handed the trust of this family, right. And you need to treat that with a lot of respect, because it's very hard as a family to say, here's a report that tells you that my child has a disability, that my child is not average, that my child is different. All of those things are really hard to come to terms with. So I just I think that that also is helpful is that if parents feel that you are respectful, and understanding of the fact that you are handing them or they are handing you something that is very difficult, and handling, not with a lot of respect, and understanding, and just showing support. I mean, that's really what it is. I think at the end of the day, any of these parents who have children who are different, are just looking to feel supported, and not judged. Because it's not their parenting. Their parenting isn't the problem. I used to think people must judge my my eldest son's behavior all the time and think I was a terrible parent. And it took me a long time to let go of that. Right? Yeah. But it's so important to remember that it's not the parents fault. It's not the child's fault. They were created that way. Right. And what we need to do is rally together to support the child in the center, but also the family and anybody around that child to

DJ Stutz  44:05  
I completely agree. So if parents want to get some more information about what you do, and maybe resources that are available to them, where would they

Delphine Rule  44:18  
go? Sure. So my website is access to So that's the word access with the number two And that's my website and I'm on Instagram at Facebook at Access Number two, education Toronto, both on Instagram and Facebook. And I just I tend to share a lot of resources, things that I see come through from differing agencies and resources just to kind of get the word out to families about what they can do. I share a lot about my kids journeys, my own journey. Things happen with my kids and I want to bang my head against a wall and I say, hey, this happened today who anybody else? And I just I you know, I really just didn't Roy connecting with families and supporting them in getting on the right foot and in the right direction to ensure the success of their kids. So again, access to is the website or access to education Toronto is where I am on Instagram and Facebook. Oh, and there's a podcast. How can I forget about my own podcast? Don't

DJ Stutz  45:19  
forget your podcast.

Delphine Rule  45:21  
I have a podcast called access to education. And on that podcast, I share some of my story. I share a ton about my kids stories. I actually interviewed my kids on one of the podcasts. But I also share stories of families, families with kids with fetal alcohol syndrome families with kids with autism, ADHD, learning disabilities. I talked to specialists, psychologists, I spoke to a vision therapist recently, we talked about what that looks like speech language pathologist, I mean, the gamut. I really just tried to share what I can through voice, because I don't like reading things. And I prefer to listen to things because I can do a load of dishes and pop podcast in and learn something new. So access to education is kind of where you can find me.

DJ Stutz  46:05  
After looking for the podcast. Is it the number two or the word two?

Delphine Rule  46:09  
It's the number two as well? Yeah, okay. Yeah, it's all access to education. Yeah, you could think I know the title of my own podcast. Well,

DJ Stutz  46:19  
it happens to the best of us, I'm sure.

Delphine Rule  46:21  
Well, you create the title right? ages ago. And you're like, right, yeah, right. And then yeah, anyway,

DJ Stutz  46:26  
I always end my episodes with the same special question for my guests. And that is, how would you describe a successful parent,

Delphine Rule  46:38  
just support your kid. But a successful parent is one who supports their child, whether it's you personally supporting your child, because you have the capacity to do so. Whether it's finding supports outside of yourself, right? We're not meant to parent children on our own, that that old adage of it takes a village, it really does take a village, and I just I think, you know, I have so much respect and time for parents who reach out and say, Yeah, I can't do it all. I need help to support my child, and not to feel badly about that at all. There's nothing easy about being a parent, whether it's a parent of a neurotypical kid, or on your diverse kid, Parenting is hard work. I kind of wish I'd read the fine print. Before, there was no time apparently. But here we are. And so I really just think a successful parent is one who just finds the support their kids need to make sure that they as a parent are taken care of. Because if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your kid. But also that if you're looking for the red sports for your kid, that your child is going to be okay. In the end. I promise it will all be okay.

DJ Stutz  47:49  
Yeah. Is that my area? Christian? We were talking about a little earlier. He is now a highway patrol police officer and he loves it.

Delphine Rule  47:59  
Putting those attention deficit. Yes. skills to use. Yeah, because he's got to have eyes on everything moving all the time.

DJ Stutz  48:08  
Absolutely. Yes. It's an Yeah, it's a perfect situation for him. Yeah. So anyway, well, Delphine, Ro, thank you so much for joining us and spending time again. And I'm sure we'll hear more about you. And maybe have you back down the road.

Delphine Rule  48:26  
That's great. Thanks so much, DJ, this was really great. Thanks so much.

DJ Stutz  48:32  
Delphine has her own podcast called Access 2 Education. So again, that's Access the number 2, and Education and she is a great resource for parents who are looking for next steps. And when I needed help, it took some digging to find a parent advocate in the district. But I did finally find her. And like I said it was a game changer. If your district doesn't have a parent advocate, you might be able to find a private one that knows the ropes and can help. But like Delphine said, sometimes just bringing a friend or relative to your meetings to help everyone keep their eye on the ball. And that is your child. It can help as well. Just be sure you choose someone who is able to maintain calm and help you stay focused. If you would like more information on Delphine and her organization, Access 2 Education, all the information is in the show notes. And yeah, no, I keep asking. So while you're down there, looking over the show note, go ahead and leave a rating and review and follow the podcast, taking the time to give the podcast a five star rating and review and it really does just take one minute to do that makes the podcast easier to find. And we are then able to help more families. I know you've been waiting for it and it's finally here, the amazing summer workshop. It's at And you can register and have total access to the workshop, as well as a lot of resources that I've put together for your summer enjoyment, you're going to learn how to set goals for your child. And you're going to learn about how to make travel more enjoyable for both you and the child, not to mention anyone who might be sitting next to you in the plane or even in the car. And we also are going to have things that you can do with your kids. We have calendars with funny dates and themes for each day. It's really a great resource. And I hope that you take advantage of it. And I want to make sure that everybody knows that I have a new Facebook page that is just for the podcast. So find me at Imperfect Heroes podcast on Facebook, and my Tuesday night live events are there now instead of the Little Hearts Academy page. My Tuesday night lives are more about what's coming up. What are we talking about? What will I learn on the podcast? And so it makes sense to move those there. You're still going to be able to have some great dialogue. You can ask questions, anything you want on either of the pages. I'm happy to get with you guys through those pages. So check out the lives now on Imperfect Heroes podcast page on Facebook. It's at seven o'clock Mountain Standard Time, every Tuesday night. And next week is an amazing lady. Her name is Kathy Derr, and she has this awesome organization that's called A Kid Again. And this organization provides activities and experiences for families of ill children. What I love about this is they include services for the siblings of the kids as well as the kids that are involved. So tune in next week and see what I mean. And until next time, let's find joy in parenting.

Transcribed by

Delphine RuleProfile Photo

Delphine Rule

Educational Consultant and Advocate

Delphine is a mother of 3, a person with Dyslexia and a school board administrator. Early on she was diagnosed with Dyslexia and has overcome many obstacles to accomplish her goals.
Delphine now owns Access2Education and works as educational consultant and advocate for families with children with neurodiversity. She began this work after struggling to find support and assistance when her own two older children where diagnosed with learning disabilities.
Her knowledge as a person with a disability, an administrator/educator and most importantly a mother to 2 children with learning need allows for understanding on many angles. Using her personal and professional knowledge Delphine helps families find their road to success for their children.