Homeadults with learning disabilitiesAn Open Letter to the Next LD Generation

Growing up is hard, but it’s even harder when there’s anything that sets you apart. Since I’m technically an adult, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned during my personal dyslexia journey.

Embrace Who You Are
You’ve probably heard this before, but here it is again – there’s no one else in the world just like you. Statistically speaking, your neurology puts you in a very special minority, and offers you advantages the majority of other people don’t have.

For all of the things that come easily to everyone else, there are things that come easily to you that everyone else finds hard. When you start putting more energy into your strengths, you might find your weaknesses won’t matter quite as much.

This one is tough, especially when you’ve been discouraged for most of your life, but it’s worth working towards.

Know Your Rights
Each country offers different legal rights to people with LD.

Since I’m in the US, that’s the country I know best. As an adult, you’re protected under ADA (Adults with Disabilities Act), and as a child or student at certain universities you’re protected under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Most companies, especially the bigger ones, have anti-discrimination procedures in place.

When you get a job and when you first go to college, familiarize yourself with these processes and refuse to tolerate discrimination. If you see someone else being discriminated against, speak up. You’re within your rights to help others as much as you are in helping yourself.

You may not be able to help the way you’re wired or the way other people act, but you can control your reactions and seek help for unfair treatment.

Play
I know adults are supposed to be serious and grown up all the time, but that can’t be further from the truth. Playing, dancing, singing or even spinning around in your office chair are all perfectly acceptable for any age.

For us, this is especially important, because many of us don’t fit into the linear/logical thinking style so prized by our culture. We’re innovators, creatives and big picture thinkers. When we play, we exercise all of those strengths.

Anyway, we all need some stress relief, and playing is a great way to get that.

Seek Help When You Need It
Our culture is harmful in many ways, most of which revolve around the ideal of self sufficiency. Everyone needs help from time to time. Everyone. It can be in terms of needing therapy for emotional problems, money from friends or family to make rent, accommodations at work or moral support. There is no shame in asking when you need to.

One day, you may be the one to provide help to someone who sorely needs it.

Never Stop Learning
Early school is supposed to be there to help you master the basics of language, math, science and thinking in general. School in teenage years is supposed to help you find a path to follow into adulthood.

When you leave school, you won’t stop learning. In fact, you’ll keep learning in different ways. If you have an interest in something, watch documentaries, absorb info from books and take part in forums. Go on city tours, go to museums, take classes and enjoy everything the world has to offer. There’s no reason why you can’t study different things or experiment with work in various fields, either.

This advice applies to everyone, of course, but for us – for the ones who struggled early, were labeled as disabled and continue to be misunderstood – it’s even more relevant.

Keep going. Even if it’s hard now, it’ll get better if you keep working on finding what works best for you.

All the best,
Emilie, dyslexic writer

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