Author: Brenda McBride, LDA of Canada, Consumer Representative, Saskatchewan
Source: National, Winter 1999
Having a Learning Disability forces one to develop several positive aspects of one’s life. There are many positive traits that come from having a Learning Disability but there are a few key traits which make the life of an individual with a Learning Disability a positive experience. A combination of finding meaningful relationships, hard work, and getting to know yourself create a powerful mix which will take anyone far.
You must develop meaningful relationships with people who will give you support along the way. You do this consciously or unconsciously as you manoeuvre yourself into a network of people who are willing to accept you as you are, and to help you in time of need. In the last year, I have completed my university degree with the help of dorm-mates, professors, and classmates. To this day, I feel they do not fully understand the help they were during study groups or when I would ask to look at their notes after a professor had skimmed over a very important point. Through discussions, I was able to gain better understanding of subject matter and to help others look at the world in a different way.
With a Learning Disability, you soon learn that hard work is a requirement for success. I was not labelled a geek, but rather an individual who was hard working and determined. The strong work ethic allowed me to put the extra effort into my projects that was absent from the work of those who take learning for granted and for whom new skills came easily. If I hadn’t explained to my dorm-mates that I had to work hard for my grades then there would have been some misunderstanding. The strategies I used as I went through the material of the day allowed me to achieve my goals for each semester. Since I was in a dorm situation, my example of hard work, and the techniques I employed were adapted by others.
This work ethic also pays off as you move from post-secondary into the workforce. Hard work, extra effort and diligence don’t go unnoticed. Employers look for these characteristics in employees. In the work place, others come by to see how they can understand and help their friends who are in need. I find that we are able to find the accommodations for our own needs.
So when someone comes along and finds out that you learn in a different way, they are willing to do extra things and make extra accommodations for you.
When a person is identified with a Learning Disability, they should understand their strengths and weaknesses. Discovering yourself as an individual with Learning Disabilities has certain benefits. Understanding and accepting yourself allows you a voice and sets an example for others around you. Every person is quite different but once you understand how you learn best and what you do well, you can capitalize on this knowledge and use it to your advantage. The strengths of a person with Learning Disabilities are areas in which one can see wonderful success.
In the twenty-first century there will be more information available about learning disabilities. This information will allow for empowerment of the individual as this invisible handicap becomes better understood and accepted. It is not that we are lazy, crazy, or stupid. It is actually the opposite in many cases.
As you can see there is a dynamite combination that offers the tools for a successful situation. In many cases, it is a team effort which increases understanding of one’s self and others. Through this process, we create a synergy or positive energy. Strong relationships, hard work, and understanding ourselves empowers us to accomplish our goals. Our circumstances force us to find the keys for the life skills we need to be successful.