Mary Oakley of Dara Synergy in conversation with Nish Parikh


Senior business development consultant and network specialist Mary Oakley asserts that there can be nothing called ‘disabilities’ particularly among children. She questions, “Why force a square peg into a round hole?”

Speaking in an online interactive session with Nish Parikh, CEO of Rangam, on creating pathways to employment in high school for the neurodiverse, Oakley said, “A child should never be forced into doing something which he or she can’t do. We should try to concentrate on what a child is brilliant at and concentrate on it.”

Oakley lives and works in Ireland.

“The education system,” Oakley said, “is more focused on ‘education’. It’s not focused on people skills and empathy. These often lead to a whole pile of challenges down the line that need not be there for a differently abled child. If more testing is done in the initial years (of schooling), we can find out what a person is really good at. A lot of different abilities are missed in primary education.”

Oakley was of the opinion that a more blended form of education can be followed in the days ahead. “The COVID-19 pandemic,” she pointed out, “has proved that we can now work and learn everything from our homes. As and when normalcy returns, a more blended approach towards education can be adopted. If five days of regular school are too challenging (for neurodiverse children), they can be allowed to stream classroom content online. In this way education can be tailored around them, focusing on their abilities.”