UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May 6, 2004

Single Mom Conquers Learning Disabilities to Teach Others

Her autistic son was her inspiration

By April Wilson-Lange

Realizing her son was autistic and he was going to need a special education, Cynthia Stark set out to learn everything she could about the disability. She also asked herself what she could do to help other children.

“I decided to take education so I could train other teachers to work with autistic kids,” says the 35-year-old.

Since last September, Stark, who also has learning disabilities, has trained to be a teacher in the Faculty of Education’s Fine Arts and Media Education (FAME) program.

Stark has perception and sensory disabilities that make it difficult for her to track words from left to right and to focus on more than one thing at a time. She also developed dyslexia, a language-based learning disability, after contracting measles at 17.

“Since I learn through images and feelings, Fine Arts and Media Education is geared to the way I learn,” she says.

The program, she explains, integrates the arts and technology into every subject. For example, she used a Mac laptop to produce a 26-minute film to help teachers understand autism and give them some basic training tools.

“Many of the teaching methods taught in this course come from teaching kids with disabilities,” she adds.

The FAME program incorporates the theory of multiple intelligences, which advocates that kids are good at different things and should be taught according to their strengths. This is a technique that Stark uses everyday with her son Kieran.

“Autistic children don’t know how to make sense of the world and they can’t modulate the different sensations,” she says. “They can be taught but it takes a long time. You have to find out what they’re good at and go from there.”

Stark dreams of one day creating an organization in Canada like the U.S.-based Center for Autism and Related Disorders, which develops individualized behavioural programs for children based on their capabilities.

Once she finishes her program, Stark hopes to work as a substitute teacher until she finds a full-time teaching position.

- - -  

Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.