Student Spotlight: Autism Advocacy and Achieving Full Potential (UPDATED)
- Posted in
- on April 25, 2019.
Isaiah Grewal is a non-speaking apraxic autistic student currently enrolled in multiple courses in grades nine and ten with VHS. The flexible, online learning environment has allowed Isaiah to focus his energy on learning and achieving good grades, whereas the typical bricks-and-mortar school environment can cause Isaiah sensory overload and prevent effective learning. With interesting and organized course content, and clear expectations from his teachers, Isaiah has found an ideal academic environment that allows him to achieve his full potential.
Isaiah’s VHS experience has also produced an unexpected and exciting meet-and-greet. An assignment in his Grade 9 Geography course involved writing a letter to a Member of Parliament (MP), and Isaiah chose to write the Honourable Mike Lake due to their shared interest in autism advocacy. MP Lake was so impressed by the letter that he wrote Isaiah back to ask if he would like to meet! On a Saturday morning not long after receiving the response, the Grewal family was honoured to host MP Lake and his staff at their home. Isaiah and MP Lake had a wonderful hour-long conversation, with Isaiah communicating by typing on his computer. The visit was so enjoyable that two of them will be meeting again in early May, this time in Ottawa at MP Lake’s office.
Isaiah has also been recently recognized by the Nonspeaking Community Consortium, a group that promotes access and communication choice for nonspeaking individuals through education, research, and advocacy. He will be representing them as a spotlight self-advocate presenter at the third annual Motormophosis conference, an event dedicated to the non-speaking community movement. This is a massive honour and speaks to the incredible success and progress Isaiah has made in his life.
Moving forward, Isaiah plans to continue earning Ontario Secondary School credits, and is excited to tackle the academic journey ahead.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to access challenging academic courses to try to meet the same high standards expected of all OSSD candidates. I am also very thankful to my guidance counsellors and exam administrator, Ms. Fielder, Ms. Drennan and Ms. Arts, for their willingness to work to understand the latest scientific evidence about non-speaking autism. Because of their efforts, I am able to earn my credits fairly. And thanks to my Geography teacher, Mr. Sommerville, for designing such a great course. It was my first essay-based virtual course and I’m having such a great time, I want to do all my credits with VHS now.”
We are thrilled to be able to provide a platform for Isaiah to pursue his goals, and are excited to see everything he accomplishes as he continues his studies. Good luck, Isaiah!
UPDATE (May 27, 2019): In early May, Isaiah was able to visit MP Lake again, but this time in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. Isaiah was also able to meet up with fellow VHS student Wyatt Dutton, who is also a non-speaking autistic individual. Wyatt and Isaiah have proudly dubbed themselves the VHS Spelling Students Club!