15 episodes

The Opportunity Gap is a podcast for families about kids of color with learning and thinking differences like dyslexia, ADHD, and more. Host Julian Saavedra is a Black parent and assistant principal in an urban public school, and host Marissa Wallace is a special education teacher with a multiracial child. Listen as Julian and Marissa explore issues of privilege, race, and identity — and talk about ways parents can advocate for their kids.

Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about The Opportunity Gap and check out more podcasts from the Understood Podcast Network at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2021 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Opportunity Gap Understood

    • Kids & Family
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

The Opportunity Gap is a podcast for families about kids of color with learning and thinking differences like dyslexia, ADHD, and more. Host Julian Saavedra is a Black parent and assistant principal in an urban public school, and host Marissa Wallace is a special education teacher with a multiracial child. Listen as Julian and Marissa explore issues of privilege, race, and identity — and talk about ways parents can advocate for their kids.

Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about The Opportunity Gap and check out more podcasts from the Understood Podcast Network at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2021 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom for families from LeDerick Horne, poet with dyslexia

    Wisdom for families from LeDerick Horne, poet with dyslexia

    LeDerick Horne is a Black man, poet, activist, and person with dyslexia. He’s spoken at the White House. And he wrote a definitive book on hidden disabilities. But his life could have all turned out differently.

    As a child, LeDerick couldn’t read. He was labeled “neurologically impaired” and was put in separate special education classes. And he struggled to find his place as a Black man in America with learning differences. He says one mistake could have led him to prison or worse, like many of his classmates.

    In this episode of “The Opportunity Gap,” hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace talk with LeDerick about all the people who made a difference in his life. LeDerick shares his advice on how to help kids of color with learning differences thrive. Stay tuned until the end of the episode for a special reading by LeDerick of a poem that will inspire your family.

    Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about “The Opportunity Gap” and all our podcasts at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2022 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    • 33 min
    Understanding your child’s behavior as communication

    Understanding your child’s behavior as communication

    As in-person learning gets underway across the country, schools are seeing an increase in disengagement and even disrespect from some students. After two years of learning online and often alone, socializing and sitting still in the classroom can be challenging for kids. Add in learning and thinking differences like ADHD, and it’s a recipe for behavior issues.

    This week on “The Opportunity Gap,” hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace challenge listeners to think of “misbehavior” as a form of communication. They share their experiences as educators and parents, and they offer their advice on how to help kids with their behavior.

    Julian and Marissa also talk about how culture can determine which behaviors are seen as “good” or “bad.” And they discuss why so many kids of color are misunderstood by white teachers.

    Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about “The Opportunity Gap” and all our podcasts at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2022 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    • 29 min
    How “The Talk” changes with disability and learning differences

    How “The Talk” changes with disability and learning differences

    Black parents and families of color know about “The Talk”: the conversation they must have with their kids about the dangers posed by racism and injustice in society. But how does this conversation change when learning differences and disability are part of the picture? 

    This week, “The Opportunity Gap” tackles how to talk with your child about learning and thinking differences and why this is a critical conversation to have for kids of all ages. Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace discuss how to avoid shame around differences and disability, and what words you can use. Listen for tips and advice on how to prepare for the conversation.

    Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about “The Opportunity Gap” and all our podcasts at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2022 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    • 24 min
    Why Black girls with learning disabilities need more visibility

    Why Black girls with learning disabilities need more visibility

    Atira Roberson says she’s Black, female, and has a learning disability. And if you don’t see all three, you don’t see her.

    “The Opportunity Gap” welcomes Atira to the show for a special conversation about what it means to be a Black girl with learning differences in the United States. Atira shares her journey — from a student with an IEP, unaware of her differences, to a candidate for a master’s in public administration. She talks about the strong Black mother who advocated for her, and the church community that supported her along the way. And she shares her number one priority for educational change in this country: stopping the criminalization of Black girls with ADHD and learning disabilities.

    Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about “The Opportunity Gap” and all our podcasts at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2022 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    • 28 min
    Early intervention and the biracial boy who wouldn’t talk

    Early intervention and the biracial boy who wouldn’t talk

    Thousands of kids of color from marginalized communities are already behind when they start kindergarten. One cause: Families often don’t know about free help for babies and toddlers with developmental delays.

    In this episode, co-host Marissa Wallace opens up about her biracial son who had language delays as a toddler. Even though Marissa is a teacher, she didn’t know exactly what to do. Luckily, her doctor recommended free early intervention services. To make sure other families don’t miss out, Marissa and co-host Julian Saavedra raise awareness about early childhood intervention services. They also discuss the barriers to access that kids in low-income areas face. And they share tips for how families can seek out early intervention.

    Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about “The Opportunity Gap” and all our podcasts at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2022 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    • 26 min
    Teacher shortages, special education, and kids of color

    Teacher shortages, special education, and kids of color

    Schools around the country are facing a huge shortage of special education teachers and other staff. How is the teacher shortage impacting kids with disabilities or learning and thinking differences? What about kids who are marginalized?

    Co-host Marissa Wallace starts the episode with a story about how her husband, a Black man, was offered a special education teaching job even though he’s in the field of finance. This kicks off a discussion with co-host Julian Saavedra about why there’s a teacher shortage — and its impact. Julian and Marissa share their experiences as parents and teachers, and they react to news stories from around the country. They also share tips for families on what to do when schools say they can’t deliver services because of staff shortages.

    Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization dedicated to shaping a world where the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently can thrive. Learn more about “The Opportunity Gap” and all our podcasts at u.org/podcasts. Copyright © 2022 Understood for All, Inc. All rights reserved.

    • 21 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

JS44419 ,

Bold and exciting

Hearing someone finally asking the tough questions families face when it comes to differences like race and school choice is refreshing. Knowing the gap exists is common, reckoning with what this means for parents and their kids with disabilities — is bold!! Bravo!

Beth5750 ,

Honest and thought-provoking

Julian and Marissa engage in thoughtful conversations and use their own experiences as teachers and parents to discuss some of the joys and challenges of raising kids of color with learning differences. This is a great resource for families and teachers.

Gerry, parent/learner ,

Timely, poignant, needed: phenomenal podcast!

Saavedra and Wallace guide insightful, data-driven conversations that connect listeners to the reality of The Opportunity Gap and how we can close it for kids of color with overlooked learning and thinking differences. The way they weave experience and personal connection elevates the conversation and carries the listener along the story of an engaging, learning-filled journey. Highly recommend!

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