The following note was written by a youngster with a learning disability.
The Way I Learn and What I Think About It
By: Jason, Age 12
I would like to express my thoughts and feelings about learning differences. I’m learning disabled. I learn best by using my body, saying what I need to learn verbally, and making songs to help me. Sometimes it is hard for me not to doubt myself. Some of my strengths are I am strong in English. I’m good with other people. Also I am good in many physical activities. One of the downsides of learning differently is that it takes me a lot longer to do or learn things. I think being LD means that it takes someone a little longer to learn some things than another person. Also I think it means the teacher needs to find other ways to teach you. People with learning differences are the same as everyone else, but when it is time to take a pencil, paper and do their work they may need help from a teacher, and someone else may not. If you are LD, you can reach your goals; you just may need to try a little harder.
Jason’s story could be repeated by all of your children I am sure. If anyone ever says a learning disabled child is lazy then they have never attempted to understand what it is like to hold focus while their mind is racing off at super speeds, or following a twisted path such that at the end you can’t remember where you began or listening to the teacher talk and not understanding what she has said, or starting off down the hall on an errand and remembering only the last instruction, or having to think if the letter b is the one that has the stick that goes up & ball to the right or the ball that goes down or the stick that goes down or … or…. This is why it takes longer! Your children try harder and experience fewer successes than their non learning-disabled peers. When you ask them what they like about school they often have to think. We all must play to their strengths and give them credit for their successes.
How far would our Olympians have gone if we constantly pointed out their shortcomings? Imagine the lessons that these athletes could teach us all:
- Alex Bilodeau: It’s about inclusion and being totally inspired by his brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy.
- Joannie Rochette: The courage to keep chasing your dream amid great adversity.
- Jenny Ciochetti and Ryan Blais, the bobsledder and aerialist who both fell painstakingly short of making the Olympic team but still came to support their teammates.
- Clara Hughes: How finding your passion can rescue you from a dead end path.
- Jasey-Jay Anderson: Never give up. Stay true to yourself.
- Brian McKeever: Refusing to let a disability define you. Handling a setback with class.
- Jon Montgomery: ADHD perseverance, dedication and focus despite impulsivity.
In this last term of the year, we have to encourage every student to find their own personal, inner Olympian so they are able to successfully reach the finish line of the academic marathon.
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee” — Marian Wright Edelman