Learning Differently or Learning Disabled?

I miss many things since closing the physical space of Creative Learning Connection. But there is one thing I certainly don’t miss – standing in front of parents, generally well-meaning mothers, who went on to tell me of their children’s disabilities – in front of their children.  It made me want to cringe. And then to lash out at them, maybe shake them, and ask if they knew what damage they were doing to their child. But I could do none of that. I had to listen quietly and then pray that I could come up with an answer that would be helpful.

Labels – Good or Bad?

I have never been a fan of these labels and cringed at their use. To hear many of these mothers use them, they sounded more like a crutch or a curse. And I shuddered more than once at what those labels were doing to the children on whom they had been placed.

Square Pegs and Round Holes

I would prefer we talk about the fact that some of our students learn differently, because isn’t that what it’s truly about? We aren’t all wired the same. We learn in different ways, but schools (and sadly, often even homeschool programs) all seem bent on making square pegs fit into round holes. Let’s embrace the differences, rather than trying to make everyone the same! It’s the differences that brought many of our most famous artists and scientists to where they managed to accomplish so much. Men like Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein probably accomplished what they did because of their learning differences, rather than in spite of them. Maybe someday we’ll learn to embrace those differences, rather than just labeling them and fighting against them.

Using Labels for Good

In the meantime, I have not completely changed my mind about labels. I think they can still cause more problems than they solve in many cases. But I have softened my view on them a bit. I have spoken with mothers recently who were embracing the labels as the answer to why their child struggles/struggled to learn many things. When the labels can be used to get help in school or to convince a parent that the child is not merely being rebellious or stubborn when they aren’t learning something, then they have become a tool for good rather than just pain.

And I have found nothing that expresses the good that can come from a properly applied label than a video that my niece and her son made recently. It made me cry and I can only hope that others will be moved by it as well.

Happy learning – regardless of your learning abilities and differences!


1 Comment

  1. Betty West

    I’m proud of all of you – my oldest daughter for allowing her children to be different, for providing a rich learning environment which has resulted in 12 successful adults. For my granddaughter, Megan for recognizing her son’s struggles, thus helping him cope in a world that seems to value “sameness”. And for Jackson who is going to be all right, thanks to an understanding Mom.

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