See: The King’s Speech

December 1, 2010

Add King George VI of England to our list of famous people alive or deceased with a learning disability.

I am usually so disappointed with movies that I expect very little from them. 

The King’s Speech, however, shattered my beliefs about going to the movies these days.  I actually could be entertained and maybe even learn a little something.  The cast included people you may be familiar with including  Geoffrey Rush whom I predict will get the Oscar for playing the king’s speech therapist. 

It also evokes acknowledgement of something I left out in previous discussions of learning disabilities and that is that some learning disabilities may have an emotional piece (either triggered by or exacerbated by emotional stuff.) 

The movie may be good for teens, especially because it helps to know learning disabilities do not discriminate.  I would not go younger as some of the language can be inappropriate. 

You may think,” How could I possibly relate to a King;  even if he never had to utter a word, all his needs would be met; he doesn’t have to face the real world with a learning disability?”.   King George could have withdrawn from his life and from service,  but he chose to do his best in spite of his limitations.  It is a story of courage and that is relevant to anyone who is feeling hindered by circumstances outside of their control. 

See Colin Firth’s  interview on Charlie Rose:  http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11313

See Related Post:  Learning Diablilities 101:  https://makeitplainonline.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/learning-disabilities-101/

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Learning Disabilities 101

November 6, 2010

I remember a few years ago when it was revealed to the public that Fantasia (the singer) had difficulty with reading.  There was a lot of misinformation floating around and suggestions that this was somehow her fault and she needed only to practice reading more to rectify the problem. 

Okay, I do not know why this isn’t more common knowledge in our “information age”, but some people are just not hardwired to read.  Their brains aren’t able to organize and make good sense of what they see on a page.

Furthermore, because I do so many evaluations to determine learning disabilities, I will add that this issue is not one related to ethnic background or privilege.

I worked in a school for children with learning disabilities and a great many had this problem.  In every other way they were normal and in some cases obviously very bright, but they were unable to read.  (Another huge misconception is that if you are unable to read you are not bright.  So Wrong!)

The lack of understanding among many about this issue was a source of great stress for many children as they often find themselves misunderstood or even labeled as “stupid” .  It is a tremendous burden for these kids.

Nonetheless, many of the children find their way, employing their strengths to make up for their weaknesses. In fact, because children with a reading disorder or other learning disabilities (there are many) face obstacles in terms of learning in “traditional” ways,  in other areas they can become more flexible thinkers and people who are creative or think outside the box.

It helps to know that many people familiar to you  in the media or through history identify/identified themselves as having a learning disability.  Some include:  Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Cher, Whoopi Goldberg, Wintson Churchill, Albert Einstein, Mozart, and Dr. Cox from the tv show, Scrubs (I forget his real name, sorry).  See the following link for a comprehensive list:  http://www.buzzle.com/articles/famous-people-with-learning disabilities.html.

So What is A Learning Disability?

Having a Learning Disability may involve difficulty in memorizing and retaining things, and with retrieval and presentation of retained information.  There are four main forms of Learning Disabilities associated with four stages of information processing:

INPUT

ASSIMILATION

RETENTION

OUTPUT

With care and support, children with Learning Disabilities can go on to have fulfilling lives.  I did.  Yes me.  I didn’t have any problems reading or writing (in fact, I was well above average in terms of those things) but I certainly have a speech processing issue on the OUTPUT end.  There is an enormous discrepancy between my ability on the INPUT end verses my ability on the OUTPUT end with regard to speech production.   You learn to maximize your strengths.  For instance, it’s easier for me to write than give speeches.  I used to think it was stage fright but I understand that it is a speech processing issue that runs in my family.

Teach your children to know their strengths are and support them around any weaknesses.

A Good Resource Site:  http://www.ncld.org/