If you’re reading this, odds are you either have someone in your life affected by learning disabilities or you’re reading over my shoulder as I write.
Should it be the latter, knock it off. That’s creepy.
However, should the former be true, you’re less alone than you may think.
According to the 2001 US Census, 20 percent of the United States population has some form of learning disability. Because not everyone fills out the census completely, that number is probably higher. Take a minute to think about that.
In fact, the text you are currently reading has been written by a dyslexic.
So, what springs to mind when you think of learning disabilities? A kid acting up because they crave attention? An adult stuck in a meaningless job because they can’t read or write?
Who else is learning disabled?
Well, here’s a short list. You might recognize a few of the names:
- Albert Einstein – dyslexia
- Robin Williams – ADHD
- Charles Schwab – dyslexia
- Whoopi Goldberg – dyslexia
- Will Smith – dyslexia
- Anne Rice – dyslexia
Although all of these individuals struggled in school, be it in learning how to read or doing math, they have all succeeded in their chosen fields. They all knew how to take the opportunities given and were able to use their unique thinking to their advantage.
|The problem with phonics is that written
English doesn’t sound like spoken English.
Many of the fields people associate with highly intelligent people tend to have a high level of adults who were kids which struggled in school. Surgeons, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are only a few professionals with high concentrations of those with SLDs (Specific Learning Disabilities).
Where Does the Problem Lie?
I’ve never really liked the term “learning disabled”. The term implies that there is something that needs to be fixed with the child. In truth, there’s nothing wrong with the child. The system into which the student is thrust is what needs to be fixed.
All children by their very natures want to be up and moving around, yet most schools force them to sit still most of the day. Their attention spans need to grow at their own rates, and forcing them to behave unnaturally makes that difficult.
For children with unique styles of learning, the increasing pressure of being taught in ways counter to how they understand the world can cause lasting damage. Naturally, when faced with constant failure, they will eventually act their frustration out.
Instead of finding the cause of this behavior, these children too often labeled as trouble makers, lazy or just plain stupid.
We’ve since discovered that one of the primary sources behind SLDs lie within neurological structure itself. It’s difficult to spot because although the effects go far beyond only reading or math, educational institutions are where the symptoms first manifest.
For instance, the saw our neighbor is using is starting to drive me up the wall, but someone with a more normal wiring would be able to tune it out. Although the sight of a person climbing the walls may be an interesting visual, that sort of inability to ignore distraction causes a great deal of trouble in both school and traditional work environments.
|Background noise is still a problem I struggle with.|
People with sensory perception problems and associated disorders struggle with this type of problem on a daily basis. It’s a little like listening to nails constantly raking down a chalkboard. To teachers or co-workers, the constant struggle to focus and resultant errors seems more like laziness.
There are many strengths to counter these weaknesses. It all stems from a different way of looking at the world.
Take Albert Einstein, for example. Although he failed constantly in school, he had the natural ability to envision the way his theories worked in his head. He made connections that his colleagues would miss. In other words, he saw the bigger picture and was able to draw parallels not ordinarily noticed.
Anne Rice was brilliant with scene description and character relationships. She could picture the area vividly, draw on her own experiences to form realistic motion and envision connections between characters clearly. Once the mental image is clear, all that’s left is to portray it.
Those are very common traits in dyslexics.
An excellent book on this topic isThe Dyslexic Advantage By Eide, Brock L./ Eide, Fernette F. (Google Affiliate Ad). If I recall correctly, I believe it’s also available in eBook and audio format.
When I was diagnosed back in the 1980s, the mechanics behind dyslexia weren’t well developed. Although a great deal of progress has been made since then, there’s still a very long way to go.
All too often, we’re encouraged to take only the negatives in life to heart. Personally, I believe that kind of thinking does more harm than good. Why keep trying if you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel?
Balance is important. Sadness, anger and failure have their places in life, but so do joy, good will and achievement.