Continuing with my theme of reposting diaries about LD, I offer this.

This diary is  about learning disability.  It's about things not to say to LD people, or the parents of LD people.  And it's below the fold

First, a little about me.  I'm a 49 year old guy with nonverbal learning disabilities, or something like it.  I also have a 12 year old son with NLD or something like it.  NLD is in the same ballpark as Asperger's.  My parents were told, when I was 5, that I would never go to college.  I graduated at age 20, and now have two MAs and a PhD (in psychometrics).  My mom started a school for me (the Gateway School of NY), now my son goes there and I am on the board.  I'm also on the board of the NYC Learning Disabilities Association
and am an adviser to a grant at Bank St. College of Education called HEDS-UP
I belong to three Yahoo groups about NLD, the most general of which is NLD in common
Finally, I am working on a book about NLD and me, to be titled : Screwed up Somehow, but not Stupid.

1.  You can't be LD, you're so bright!  Ummm, you can be smart and LD, average intelligence and LD, or less than average intelligence and LD.  Just like you can be tall and fat, tall and thin, or tall and average weight.  LD means that you have a pronounced deficit in some area of learning.  My deficits are entirely outside academic work: I have Nonverbal Learning Disability or something like it.  My biggest problem in grad school was finding my way to the classroom.

2.  You just need to try harder.  Sorry, but no.  My brain does not work the way yours does.  There is something the matter with mine.  It's not a matter of will, or effort.  It's a matter of trying to figure out how to cope.  You wouldn't tell a blind person to try harder to see, would you?

3.  Einstein / Da Vinci / Churchill was LD, and look what they did!.  You know what? I'm not Einstein, Da Vinci, or Churchill.  Almost no one is.  That's why they're amazing.  I mean, you aren't LD and you haven't done what they did, either, right?

4. It's not so bad  OK, fine.  There are lots of people worse off than me.  I admit it. Somewhere, there's a starving quadriplegic orphan with AIDS, who is also a rape victim, and maybe she's worse off than anyone.    And I sympathize with them.  Being LD isn't as bad as some other disabilities, and certainly I don't have the worst life - it's actually pretty good.  But LD sucks.  Please don't minimize it.

5. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses Yes. They do.  But so what?  Our differences in ability, in particular our deficits, are so great as to be disabling.  For example, when I was 9 I took the WISC (an IQ test).  It's made up of subtests. Most people show some small differences - 110, 120, 100, 105 etc. across the subtests.  I got subtest scores from 60 to 160.  I can solve quadratic equations, but can't figure out how to make the bed so it looks nice, or roll up my sleeves so they stay rolled up.  

6.  You need to discipline your child more/better/differently  You don't know.  Our son, for example, over-reacts dramatically to any change in routine.  ANY change. It freaks him out, and he cannot control it.  It's like a phobic reaction.  Long term, he is improving, and we are working on it.  But short term?  It isn't about discipline.  

Originally posted to plf515 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 05:31 PM PDT.


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