Ep. 138: Bullying, Learning Differences, and Anxiety with Kayla Taylor

Jun 20, 2023 | 0 comments

In today’s episode, we have the author of an incredible book called Canaries Among Us, Kayla Taylor. And in our conversation today, we are tackling three topics at once: bullying, learning differences, and anxiety. 

Canaries Among Us is a raw and honest exploration of the everyday lives of children challenged by learning differences, anxiety, and bullying. Author Kayla Taylor blends science and poignant storytelling to create this necessary, timely, and stigma-tackling resource for anyone interested in child well-being. Kayla writes to address important issues plaguing families, and she uses a pseudonym to protect the identities of minors and other vulnerable individuals. She supports organizations that promote mental health, neurodiversity, and bullying prevention.

This is a conversation that will resonate with many families, especially those of children with learning differences.


Show Notes:

[2:26] – Kayla shares that she never saw herself as a writer, but had an experience that rocked her and her family’s world which drove her to write Canaries Among Us.

[4:05] – After journaling, writing creates meaning for Kayla.

[5:07] – She felt alone for a very long time, but she realized how many families were dealing with the same thing. She felt a moral obligation to pay it forward.

[7:17] – We have a huge societal issue with how we treat children with learning differences.

[8:05] – When something is seemingly wrong, we try to fix the kid. But we don’t look at how broken the system is.

[9:10] – We strip the joy out of life when we put people into boxes.

[10:29] – Kayla explains the title of her book Canaries Among Us.

[12:18] – If we just see a child based on their weakness, we miss so much about them.

[15:09] – As a society, we are not equipping teachers with the tools and strategies they need to support all students in their classes.

[17:12] – This is also impacted by the healthcare system.

[19:28] – There are so many points where we can improve the systems we have.

[21:28] – Kayla shares a story about a child who very clearly needed support and was denied everything.

[23:38] – Average doesn’t bring out the strengths in anyone. A child may appear average when it comes to testing, but is filled with anxiety and struggle.

[25:55] – When we focus on average and not everyone’s individual strengths and weaknesses, not only does the individual suffer, but society as a whole does as well.

[28:41] – Kayla explains why bullying is a major topic of her book in addition to learning differences and anxiety.

[30:39] – Marginalized children are unfortunately the most targeted for bullying.

[33:55] – Bullying is not a right of passage.

[36:47] – Kayla describes an experience with an administrator that denied bullying exists in elementary school.

[39:32] – There are different reactions to bullying and Kayla shares that the people who are the most helpful and empathetic are those who have had struggles themselves.

[41:45] – We need to shine a spotlight on the children who are making the effort to show their differences and celebrate the differences of others.

[43:52] – One way Kayla models acceptance to her own children is to strip her vocabulary of words like “strange” and “weird”.


About Our Guest:

Kayla Taylor is a best-selling writer, researcher, advocate, and parent. She recently published Canaries Among Us, an exposé blending poignant storytelling and groundbreaking research to empower those caring for the millions of kids challenged by learning differences, bullying, and anxiety. This heartrending chronicle bravely tackles harmful stigmas and proposes new ways of thinking about how we raise and teach our children. Throughout her story, Taylor reveals both the exquisite joy and painful heartache inherent in raising children who don't fit society's definition of “normal.”


Connect with Kayla Taylor:

Links and Related Resources:


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.