I just read a post over at Gingersnaps With Tea. I check her blog out occassionally because I have, like, a ton of knitting blogs in my favourites folder. She occassionally writes about her son who has a learning disability. Her latest post included a story about a meeting with a vice principle who a/ mixed up the son’s disorder with another disorder, b/ despite the kid’s higher than average intelligence, suggested that he enter a school that would ‘make him more employable’ (ie. a less academic setting), and c/ was unaware of alternative schools that cater to those children with higher than average intelligence but have learning disabilities. I think that’s disgraceful.
I have written about TAing those with learning disabilities and how I’m not equiped to properly tutor them. However, I do know many people with learning disabilities who are absolutely brilliant and sometimes very academic. My parents are both extremely bright people, but my father has a learning disability. School was rough for him, but he figured out his learning requirements and adapted in such a way that by the time he attended post-secondary school…or even started working…learning was not an issue for him. He’s done very well for himself and is one of the quirkiest people I know.
This all put me in mind of a conversation I had with my friend L over breakfast one morning. L, as well understood among those who know him, has the non-hyperactive form of ADD. We discussed how he never felt as though this was a “disorder”. I remember him explaining it to me in this way (I wish I could do this justice, the man has a way of saying things):
People say that someone has ADD because they cannot concentrate on a particular topic. That while ‘the people’ are still talking about one thing, the ‘ADDer’ is busy focusing on something else. L says that the ‘ADDer’ just has a heightened sense of what’s interesting and it’s ‘the people’ that are too slow to catch on. L says that most people with ADD tend to be of higher intelligence. So, something that gives you higher intelligence and see things differently and uniquely is not a liability…it’s a superpower.
As you can imagine, as a filmmaker this has been a great advantage to him.
I think he’s right. I mean…I can’t tell for sure. I don’t have a learning disability so I can’t judge, but why not? All those I know with learning disabilities tend to be extremely talented and bright people. If you learn to harness the uniqueness your ‘disability’ gives you and use it to your advantage, who’s saying it’s a disability? You a/ have the experience of overcoming an obstacle and b/ now you get to see things others don’t.