Episodes
LeDerick Horne is a Black man, poet, activist, and person with dyslexia. He’s spoken at the White House. And he wrote a definitive book on hidden disabilities. But his life could have all turned out differently. As a child, LeDerick couldn’t read. He was labeled “neurologically impaired” and was put in separate special education classes. And he struggled to find his place as a Black man in America with learning differences. He says one mistake could have led him to prison or worse, like...
Published 05/12/22
Published 04/28/22
As in-person learning gets underway across the country, schools are seeing an increase in disengagement and even disrespect from some students. After two years of learning online and often alone, socializing and sitting still in the classroom can be challenging for kids. Add in learning and thinking differences like ADHD, and it’s a recipe for behavior issues. This week on “The Opportunity Gap,” hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace challenge listeners to think of “misbehavior” as a...
Published 04/28/22
Black parents and families of color know about “The Talk”: the conversation they must have with their kids about the dangers posed by racism and injustice in society. But how does this conversation change when learning differences and disability are part of the picture?  This week, “The Opportunity Gap” tackles how to talk with your child about learning and thinking differences and why this is a critical conversation to have for kids of all ages. Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace...
Published 04/14/22
Atira Roberson says she’s Black, female, and has a learning disability. And if you don’t see all three, you don’t see her. “The Opportunity Gap” welcomes Atira to the show for a special conversation about what it means to be a Black girl with learning differences in the United States. Atira shares her journey — from a student with an IEP, unaware of her differences, to a candidate for a master’s in public administration. She talks about the strong Black mother who advocated for her, and the...
Published 03/31/22
Thousands of kids of color from marginalized communities are already behind when they start kindergarten. One cause: Families often don’t know about free help for babies and toddlers with developmental delays. In this episode, co-host Marissa Wallace opens up about her biracial son who had language delays as a toddler. Even though Marissa is a teacher, she didn’t know exactly what to do. Luckily, her doctor recommended free early intervention services. To make sure other families don’t miss...
Published 03/17/22
Schools around the country are facing a huge shortage of special education teachers and other staff. How is the teacher shortage impacting kids with disabilities or learning and thinking differences? What about kids who are marginalized? Co-host Marissa Wallace starts the episode with a story about how her husband, a Black man, was offered a special education teaching job even though he’s in the field of finance. This kicks off a discussion with co-host Julian Saavedra about why there’s a...
Published 03/03/22
Everyone agrees it’s critical to teach Black history to kids with learning differences and ADHD, as well as to students who get special education. But what’s the best way to teach it? How can families engage their kids in Black history — as well as in current events in the Black community? This episode features Kimberly Eckert, 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, in a conversation about race, parenting, and Black history. Kimberly shares her personal experience growing up as a biracial...
Published 02/17/22
What should families of color know about ADHD? The podcast welcomes Kristin Carothers, PhD, a Black clinical psychologist who specializes in working with families of kids who have ADHD and learning differences. “Dr. Kristin” shares why ADHD — and ADHD medication — hold such a heavy place in the hearts of Black families. The discussion focuses on the cultural conversation around ADHD. Dr. Kristin also gives practical tips to families on what they can do if they think a child might have ADHD....
Published 02/03/22
Schools are reeling from the impact of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. But what does it mean for special education, kids with learning and thinking differences, and marginalized communities? Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace discuss how they’re managing the new COVID wave as both parents and teachers. They get an update on how schools around the country are responding, with some going virtual, others staying in-person, and — in a few cases — even closing because of a lack of...
Published 01/20/22
Kids who have learning and thinking differences or other disabilities can also be gifted. This is known as being “twice exceptional,” or “2e.” But what does twice exceptional mean for Black and brown kids? In this episode, hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace explore how kids who struggle with learning can also have incredible talents and skills. However, for marginalized kids, these abilities are often overlooked. Gifted testing may be biased against them. The hosts also react to...
Published 01/06/22
Advocating for your kids in an IEP meeting can be scary for any family. Now imagine that the family is undocumented and worried about immigration enforcement as they try to get help for their kids with learning and thinking differences. In this episode, hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace talk to Kareem Neal, a Black special education teacher in Arizona. Kareem shares his experiences with kids with IEPs from undocumented families. He explains how parents can find champions within the...
Published 12/16/21
Choosing a school is a huge decision for families with kids who learn and think differently. One concern is whether special education is better in high-income schools. Another is how IEPs serve kids in racially diverse or low-income schools.  Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace take on tough questions from Understood users about how IEPs differ between schools based on income. They discuss how race, diversity, and wealth play a role in the special education services that kids...
Published 12/02/21
What prevents young people of color from recognizing their learning differences and ADHD? According to user researcher Yasmeen Adams, there’s a perception by some that ADHD is a “white boy problem.” Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace welcome Yasmeen to the show to discuss the results of interviews with dozens of young people of color with ADHD. The hosts ask pointed questions about how experiences differ between Black youth and other people of color. And Yasmeen shares why, as a Black...
Published 11/18/21
Simone Biles is the most decorated female gymnast in history. She’s also a Black woman and an advocate for people with ADHD. So why don’t more students of color know her story? Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace explore what being a role model means and why some stories rise up more than others. They also talk about how shame and stigma prevent more people of color from talking about their challenges. Finally, the hosts share thoughts on how parents and schools can help kids with...
Published 11/18/21
Listen to “The Opportunity Gap,” a new podcast for families about kids of color with learning and thinking differences, like dyslexia, ADHD, and more. Host Julian Saavedra is a Black parent and assistant principal in an urban public school, and host Marissa Wallace is a special education teacher with a multiracial child. Listen as Julian and Marissa explore issues of privilege, race, and identity — and talk about ways parents can advocate for their kids. Understood is a nonprofit and social...
Published 11/11/21