Honoring Learning Disabilities:
When you hear the names Albert Einstein, Whoopi Goldberg, and Walt Disney, you likely think to yourself: highly successful people from diverse backgrounds. And, you would be correct! Did you also know that these notable human beings, who contributed immeasurably to life as we know it, were also diagnosed with a learning disability?
So often we get attached to a single word and make it mean something bad. Dis-ability. We confuse this with ‘not being able’.
Don’t even think about telling me that my child won’t be able to do something. He’s brilliant. Perfect. This is my baby we’re talking about!
It holds such a heavy weight that when attached to someone you love, it can feel debilitating and isolating. Where do we go from here?
Not to worry, not only is this line of thinking not true, but you are not alone.
In honor of Learning Disability Awareness month, I want to shine some light on the basics of a learning disability, and how to respond if you think a child you love might have one.
One in seven people in the U.S. have brains that are wired just a little differently, and often times this is passed down in families. Let’s be honest, growing a human being is quite the miracle (way to go, mama!) and sometimes the wiring of that baby might go in a different direction than the ‘norm.’ This doesn’t make that baby any less than, it just means they have a different lens from which they process and view the world, and we must learn to meet them where they are.
A learning disability is a lifelong neurological disorder in which this different brain wiring may result in challenges with writing, reading, reasoning, recalling, and/or organizing information. However, if given the right support systems and early intervention, children with learning disabilities can be extremely successful in and out of school.
What a learning disability is not:
Those on the Autism Spectrum, or who have Intellectual Disabilities, Behavioral Disorders, Deafness, and/or Blindness do not fall under the learning disability category. Similarly, an ADHD diagnosis is separate from a learning disability diagnosis, but oftentimes the two go hand in hand.
What you can do:
If you suspect a child you care about might have a learning disability, seek out the evaluation and consultation of a professional as soon as possible. Early intervention has been shown to significantly impact the success of a child, long-term. Also, focus on their strengths and what lights them up, build awareness around their weaknesses and triggers, become familiar with the educational system, seek the help of a professional and your local community for support, and educate yourself on strategies to implement at home to help them (and yourself!) along the way.
I repeat, you are not alone!
Remember, if Annie is consistently reversing her letters and numbers, or maybe Calvin can’t seem to focus on much these days, they might have a learning disability, but this is in no way an indication of the bright future these children have when given the support they need and deserve.
We must March On!