“Imagine the difference it could make if we focused on the strengths of people with learning disabilities instead of their weaknesses.” (Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario)
I admit it. I never thought much about learning disabilities. In fact I am ashamed to say that I actually unknowingly subscribed to a couple of myths about them. Sure, because of my job, I knew about certain challenges children lived with like autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and speech, language, behavioural, physical and emotional issues. But to be honest, until recently, I didn’t know anything about the relatively common learning disabilities (called LDs by those in-the-know) that challenge our kids as they develop and grow – the ones teachers and other educators, educational assistants, therapists and support professionals see every day.
Staying true to my “I’m a parent and I’m glad to know this, so maybe other parents would want to know it too” philosophy, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned and tell you why I think it matters.
The long and the short of it is, in my opinion, we all need to look at children (and adults) with learning disabilities with our eyes focused on their strengths, gifts, abilities and interests, as therein lies the path to reaching them. Their challenges are sometimes easier to see than their strengths – or are they? Maybe what needs to change is the lens we are looking through. And, even more importantly, maybe what we need to do as parents is not only look through that lens of acceptance, but teach our kids to do it too.
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness month. In honour of this occasion, I thought I’d share a look at persons with LDs through my new eyes; the eyes of a person who loves a kid who is living and thriving with a learning disability. I think this is something that he might say:
I’m listening to you; I’m eager to please,
But I can’t see the forest through all of these trees.
I’m trying to get it and do as you ask,
But I need you to guide me and keep me on task.
I am intelligent, skilled and unique,
But that often gets missed when you hear how I speak.
I can solve problems and work my way through,
If I feel your support and can reach out for you.
I’m creative, artistic and fun as can be,
You’d know that if your eyes could see the real me.
I have a huge heart and a beautiful mind,
That you’ll see if you’re patient and loving and kind.
One more thing. Pop quiz: What do Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson have in common? You guessed it…people with LDs. I think that says it all.
What do you think?
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)