Last year, NCLD surveyed more than 1,200 young adults with and without identified learning and attention issues, to understand what factors contributed to their success after high school.
The results of this nationwide survey formed the basis of our Student Voices report. Our findings revealed that a supportive home life, connection to friends and community, and strong sense of self-confidence are the three most powerful factors that contribute to the profile of a thriving young adult at this time in their lives.
The survey responses inspired us to look for ways our organization can ensure that more young adults with learning and attention issues have the opportunity to thrive during and after high school. Last month, NCLD took our next important step toward this goal when we gathered a group of young adults from all over the county in our offices for a day-long meeting.
Their task: to advise us as we plan new programs inspired by our Student Voices research.
We know that we will not be able to build an effective strategy to support young adults with learning and attention issues if we don’t consult them from the very beginning. So we were eager to hear what they had to say.
With walls covered in dozens of Post-its, and a conference table overflowing with paper and pens, crayons, and fidgets, we invited the group to think big about program offerings and opportunities that would help young adults with learning and attention issues in their journey after high school.
More importantly, we listened to their ideas for how to usher in a new and improved future for young adults with learning and attention issues. We heard about their struggles, frustrations, triumphs and success stories. They expressed disappointment with standardized testing, the importance of student communities, teacher-student relationships, and even online avenues for young adult engagement. We encouraged them to challenge us in our vision for programs that could help them and young adults like them in the future.
It was an inspiring day that had a profound impact on our staff and on me.
Here’s some of what our young adult advisors told us throughout the day:
“It is really exciting to see the potential for our ideas to get put into action, because good ideas aren’t always backed up by an organization like NCLD. ”
“There aren’t many organizations where the leadership is willing to sit down for basically the entire day to listen to what young people have to say about the issues. That speaks volumes.”
“I feel really hopeful after today. This is the first time I’ve actually talked to other people about learning disabilities and actually engaged in conversation without having to explain myself. It is refreshing to listen to other people’s stories.”
“The system failed us at multiple different levels and now we can try to disrupt that narrative.”
“Right now we are, in a way, an unstoppable force of thought. We are here to create a better tomorrow—and today—for students with learning attention issues.”
After hearing their stories and their candid feedback, our staff feels ignited by the responsibility and trust these young adults have put in our hands. We are committed to creating systemic change for all young adults with learning and attention issues and already planning next steps toward that goal .