Ep. 97: Building Communities of Support and Resistance with Dr. Bibi Pirayesh

Sep 6, 2022 | 0 comments

This episode may make you angry but I am hoping that it will also motivate you to advocate for change. I’ve invited Dr. Bibi Pirayesh back to the Diverse Thinking Different Learning Podcast to talk about learning disabilities as a social justice issue. This topic is certainly charged and rightfully so. Today, we discuss whether our current education system was built for neurodiverse learners.

It is hard for me to believe that Dr. Pirayesh fell into educational therapy by accident as she is extraordinary at the work she does. She is also an extraordinary advocate. Her work in the field is tireless and in this episode, she and I discuss the hardships we face as a society that does not allow all learners to reach their potential.


Show Notes:

[2:47] – Welcome back, Dr. Pirayesh!

[3:53] – Learning disabilities is a social justice issue and in recent years social justice has become extremely politicized.

[5:10] – While social justice is typically viewed as based around race, gender, and sex, it is all connected through ableism.

[6:19] – Why people may feel frustrated and feel like they can’t move forward.

[8:19] – What is the ideology that fuels ableism in the education system?

[9:57] – The way that it is, isn’t necessarily the way it is supposed to be. It’s just the way it was built and the education system is working exactly the way it was designed.

[11:10] – The education system was designed to be competitive.

[13:53] – When you read special education law, it becomes clear that this system is created in a specific way.

[15:56] – As a system, we don’t always interpret the science correctly.

[16:54] – During the pandemic, people became more aware of learning problems and mental health issues, but this is not a new problem.

[18:41] – Dr. Pirayesh was hopeful in the beginning of the pandemic when there were fast changes in education, but things are settling back to where they were as the pandemic slows.

[20:18] – One positive change is access to mental health support, but we haven’t made any shifts for marginalized students who learn differently.

[22:10] – Reading is one area where research is plentiful and solid and yet we aren’t making changes in the system.

[23:16] – There is a connection between the prison system and education system.

[26:09] – Many people, including Dr. Pirayesh, have felt at times hopeless for change.

[27:45] – Small change is a starting point and Dr. Pirayesh sees the impact of individuals and schools being receptive to advocacy.

[29:49] – Change is absolutely possible.

[31:21] – Dr. Pirayesh shares some mindset shifts she has had to make in her business and personal life.

[33:04] – There are hopeful things in a society that isn’t built for everyone. Having these conversations isn’t enough. There has to be action.

[34:42] – How are people coming up against the system and what is the result?

[37:10] – Share your story here.


About Our Guest:

Dr. Bibi Pirayesh holds a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master's degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University where her work focused primarily on children’s development of mathematical thinking and cognitive neuroscience.  While the emphasis of Dr. Pirayesh’s work is on remediating learning disabilities in a one-on-one setting, she is also a sought after speaker and community advocate for children and families around learning rights. Bibi works with children grades 1-12 and covers a wide range of learning difficulties including dyslexia, ADHD, and spectrum disorders. Dr. Pirayesh completed her doctoral work at Loyola Marymount University where she is also faculty and is involved with a number of service organizations including The Association of Educational Therapists.


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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.