Helping the Child With a Learning Disorder
It can be most painful and destructive when a child is labeled with a learning disorder such as: (1) Dyslexia, (2) ADD, ADHD and other attention disorders, (3) anxiety, (4) Melancholy (depression), (5) Bipolar, (6) Schizophrenia, (7) or Autism Spectrum. It is not only painful and destructive to the child, but to the parent and society as well. Insurance companies require these labels in order to issue payment on treatment. But it is by nature very inaccurate and misleading: it is not how those in the medical field treat patients (resource 1, page 15).
It is important to note that recent discoveries using brain MRI and SPEC scans are causing those in the field to rethink everything they thought they knew about learning disorders. Science and insurance companies both were wrong. Here is what parents and teachers of these inaccurately labeled children need to understand:
Important things to know about all learning disorders:
We have been focusing on areas of learning in which children were weakest. We now know it is much more important to focus mostly on a child’s interests (80%), and only some on their weakest areas (20%). This is just opposite of what educators have been doing, and can cause more harm than good.
- There is no such thing as a normal brain. (resource 1 pg 7)
- Scientists were surprised to learn that the most creative individuals are at higher risk for mental illness than are the less creative. The world is full of fascinating people who didn’t achieve such success despite their brain differences, but rather in large part because of their brain differences. (resource 1, pg 9) Einstein could not have made his historic scientific breakthroughs were it not for his day dreamy, distractible mind (ADD). In the words of psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, ” I don’t think everyone (with a brain difference) has the potential to achieve greatness in every field, but I think everyone has the potential to achieve greatness in some field.” (resource 1, pg 11) If we educators find that spark that ignites their interest, these children find ways to achieve what interests them, even if it takes improving what they are weak in.
- “The irony is that while my patients are focused on getting past the obstacles that exist between them and their larger goals, it is very often, the case that there is great strength to be mind from those obstacles, and brilliance to be observed in how my patients both utilize their struggles, and maneuver around them.” (resource 1,pg 12) In fact children who do not learn to overcome obstacles are less equipped to overcome them as adults.
- “Every single healthy human being lies somewhere on every psychopathology spectrum (e.g. schizophrenia, autism, mood disorders). What’s more, we each show substantial fluctuations on each of these dimensions each day, and across our lifespan”. Mental disorders are not only prevalent, they’re overlapping. There is no such thing as a single, neat diagnosis. (resource 1, pg 8)
- Plato talked about different personality types /learning styles, and it still holds true today. Different personalities types/ learning styles are often misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities (resource 2).
- Whole Brain Teaching improves the health of the brain for those with learning disabilities. Learn more at our website.
- The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius , by Gail Saltz, M.D.
- Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence., by David Keirsey