TEDxMandurah 2021: Morphability

TEDxMandurah March 2021

We are in amazing times, the likes of which have never seen before with the global environment changing month-to-month, almost day-by-day. From bushfires to droughts to pandemics. It has brought out the best in us, highlighted the worst, showcased skills, brought friendships, developed understanding. Our takeaway has to be that, within our lives, whether we went through positive or negative, ups or downs we have proven to ourselves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have the ability to adapt and change to suit the environment, to suit the day, the job, the surroundings. This is what TEDxMandurah is...

The Amazing Brother That Inspired My TEDx Talk

My brother was one in a million. Literally. Many of those who watched my TEDx Talk wanted to know more about my brother so I thought I’d write a little more about him here. My brother, Gaelon, was born with Xeroderma pigmentosum (or XP for short). It’s a very rare skin condition that basically means the skin cannot protect or heal itself from exposure to ultraviolet light. While XP is still considered a terminal condition, many people diagnosed with it today can expect to live twenty or thirty years, some even longer, because we’ve gotten much better at finding ways...

Plot Storming @ Whitford Library March 2021

Plot Storming @ Whitford Library

This one-hour talk unlocks that key to the core elements of story structure. Rebecca Laffar-Smith shares an inside look at what makes the stories we love, compelling and universal. “When I was in primary school my teacher told me that all stories have a beginning, middle, and ending. All stories are made up of these three basic parts. It’s really quite simple. Of course, it’s really not simple at all because it doesn’t tell us where stories begin, what happens in the middle, and how they come together to produce a satisfying ending.” – Rebecca Laffar-Smith Discover how to define...

Talking To Imani About Diversity In Fiction

I had a wonderful time talking to Imani about Diversity in Fiction and being an author with chronic health conditions, both mental and physical. I’ve found I naturally gravitate toward including characters with mental health or physical disabilities because it’s natural to share my lived experiences through my characters. I’m particularly excited (and terrified) as I’m writing City of Quartz, book two in the Children of Nar series, because I’m recalling the experience of being the sibling of someone with a terminal illness. My brother Gaelon was diagnosed before I was even born, so all my life I knew we...

Why Phonics Isn’t A Cure For Dyslexia

Why Phonics Isn’t A Cure For Dyslexia

I’m going to say something kind of controversial in the dyslexia support industry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not a fan of phonics. This funny (not suitable for kids), two minute video from teacher-turned-comedian, Ben Knight, gives a great example of why phonics really is difficult. It’s not just hard to learn, but to teach. This is why we poor dyslexics absolutely lose it when we’re trying to figure out the whole phonics thing. I’m in my 30s now and have been teaching phonics for years. It STILL rarely makes sense to me. We’re told...

Assistive Technology Highlight: C-Pen (Reader Pen)

Today I’m sharing an assistive technology highlight with thanks to the wonderful people at Reader Pen. They reached out to me a few months ago and invited me to review their Exam Reader Pen. I trialed it myself for a week or so. I also passed it to my 13yo dyslexic son (Joshua) who checked it out for about an hour or two. Then, we passed it to my 62yo tech-savvy dyslexic mother (Stephanie) and she trialed it for a few days. I feel like we’ve given it a relatively rigorous run through. We explored its features and settings; tested...

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Have you ever gazed up at a beautiful display of Christmas lights and wondered, “How did they do that?” Each year, for about the past six years, I’ve bought a box of Christmas lights with the idea of creating a Christmas lights display on my home. And every year I’ve chickened out from figuring out how to string the lights and design the display because I just don’t feel like I could do anything that would look amazing and special. But, I have a lot of lights in boxes… That’s probably a big part of where our latest P.I. Penguin...

Forever Loved: Of An Autistic Child (A Poem & A Story)

Forever Loved: Of An Autistic Child (A Poem & A Story)

Forever Loved: Of An Autistic Child by Rebecca Laffar-Smith Three words, unsaid yet heard, while left unspoken, tell more stories than a thousand voices aloft in garbled, off-key song that warble in a group, but one is silent. He does not smile along with all his peers. His head bobs in time to a tune we cannot hear. His eyes intent but sight snags only on unknown forces, unseen faces. All he knows, we do not know. His peacefulness is like a serene lake that quivers with a raging torrent beneath the calm, unblemished surface. Forgotten, almost, are the hours...

How can reading ever compete with video gaming?

With summer vacation well underway in many parts of the world, parents — especially those with limited means to send their children to camps or other summer programs — may be anxious about how to make sure boredom doesn’t inspire the kids to come up with less than ideal forms of entertainment. These may include video games, which, as educational as they can be, also risk addictive behavior — especially in children with attention deficit disorder, as Dr. Ellen Littman wrote for ADDitude Magazine: Owners of hypersensitive brains reduce stimulation by avoiding group activities, tuning out of conversations, and isolating...