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6 People Changing the World of Learning Differences and Special Needs

What you need to know about their work, from anxiety to ADHD

Published on: April 05, 2018

6 People Changing the World of Learning Differences and Special Needs

David Flink
David Flink of Eye to Eye. Photo courtesy of David Flink

David Flink — Learning Differences

The organization Eye to Eye began in 1998 when five Brown University students with learning differences mentored a group of similarly-labeled elementary school students at Fox Point Elementary in Providence, Rhode Island.

The mentoring organization has since grown into a national movement with chapters in more than 120 schools around the country that provide mentoring for students with learning disabilities.

That growth is thanks in part to the work of Eye to Eye founder and chief empowerment officer David Flink. With his help, Eye to Eye is a founding partner of and recently established a partnership with the Microsoft Educator Community.

Research shows students who have been mentored in Eye to Eye’s social-emotional learning curriculum have higher self-esteem and confidence in their learning difference identity, says Flink's team.

“Our students show a significant decrease in depression and anxiety,” says Stephanie Whitham, an Eye to Eye National program coordinator. She wishes the narrative surrounding learning differences wasn’t so focused on what the students cannot do. 

“Amazing strengths come with learning disabilities,” she says. “Dyslexic students can think in 3D images. ADHD students can work at an incredible pace producing more work than neurotypical students. Our brains are different, but it is not a deficit.”

New chapters are still opening at a fast clip. If there isn’t one in your area already, try the free Eye to Eye App: EMPOWER Different Learners. Students can also learn more about Eye to Eye by attending a presentation by an Eye to Eye Diplomat, a student trained to share their story and strategies for success within a traveling speakers bureau.

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