I am middle aged and still have learning disabilities. This is a learning condition that I was born with and has been with me since grade one. I was in special education classes in grade school, some years for half the day, others years for a couple of hours away from my classmates. In high school I was part of the Basic curriculum for four years with some integration in General curriculum classes. In my early twenties I was bouncing around from job to job trying to learn a trade, because my academic skills were very weak – why wouldn’t they be — no matter how hard I tried there were always reading, writing and math issues.
Learning anything new is like cycling up a hill with a flat tire — you will make it with a few water breaks along the way. The short term memory, processing information and social skills discrepancies are always present. Life is not about demanding respect from others, or being part of a gang or having a chip on your shoulder. Successful people have a network of friends, excellent social skills, and are usually excellent problem solvers and have a fantastic work ethic.
I believe in order to be a productive person in our society, we constantly have to invent ways to learn such as: include your home telephone number on your speed dial list, put a piece of tape on the back of your lock so you can always find it at the gym, find a permanent home for the things you use daily, use bright colors to help you find things , when you draw a line put a level on your line to ensure it is straight, when you park your car in a busy mall put something on your rear mirror inside your car to a attract your attention. When my wife and I build things she reads the instructions, and I paraphrase what was said so I correctly understand. At work, I use sticky notes for reminders and write the day of the week i.e. Fri. Oct.12/12 and not just Oct.12/12, as you never know when the numbers will get turned around i.e. Fri.21/12. Recording the day of the week can be a lifesaver. My filing system is monthly and not numeric, with extra notes on some documents.
Life has taught me there is a time and place for everything, a time to give your opinions, a time to take direction, and a time to comply with others. Unlike the grade school days when I use to fight with everyone bigger or smaller than me…now I understand my learning profile, and do not take comments to heart. When I was younger sports were my life. Watching, playing, and practicing were my passions. As people with LD we need to expose ourselves to new things in our own time, whether it to be walking the aisles in a department store, watching the food channel or going to the library. We need to be around different environments — just like a rainbow after some heavy rain. We need all the colors for us to daily cope. I feel the biggest asset we humans have is our inner desire to achieve anything, i.e. run a marathon, cycle 100 kilometers or to help a stranger.
It makes me sad to see so many young people get involved in gangs because I know many of these people have learning challenges and can be easily misled. I think back at the days when I was called a delinquent, or the days my mom used to cry because my behaviour was out of control and I now shake my head. I look at the people who drive the luxury cars, the bankers, or business men who head our economy. These are the people who read a lot, these are the people who are able to multitask, and are good with numbers, education and social skills. These are their keys to success.
I get up extra early to practise my math tables, to read a magazine article, or my thesaurus and write in my journal “record and learn”. Life has taught me not to be bitter about how I learn.
The biggest champions of LD kids are the parents, as they have the power to heal deep wounds. A child who is a “bully” is just trying to understand how they learn.
Surround yourself with successful people and if the social skills get in your way, then read about ways to improve social skills.
As adults we have to help ourselves, and need to take responsibility for our actions and give something back to the community.
Sharing is how we grow,