Why do we continue to view individuals with learning challenges as damaged, broken or less than? Why are we blind to the wealth of knowledge and unique abilities they possess, not in spite of, but because of the unique wiring of their minds? Science has shown us that our beliefs and perceptions control our biology and when we change our beliefs and perceptions we can change our whole life. If this is true, then maybe we should open our ears and eyes to the perceptions of these uniquely-wired individuals instead of trying to turn them all into typical learners.
Almost every day I meet someone who, as an adult, is still shackled with the shame of feeling (s)he is “less than” because (s)he is not a typical learner. Since we currently live in a global economy that is driven by technology and requires a wealth of different kinds of minds, I think this is the time to celebrate the unique abilities of our so-called “learning challenged”.
Thomas Armstrong in his book, Neurodiversity, states, “…many individuals that have dyslexia often see in three-dimensions…” “…ADD people are high-energy and incredibly good brainstormers…” “…ADHD has been called the ‘novelty-seeking gene’…those who possessed this gene are more likely to explore new territory, discover new food sources, or create new forms of social organization…” and finally, ” …autistic individuals are great systematizers….” To me, this looks like a gold mine of solution finders.
Some of us have already come to the realization that approaching our age-old problems with our old mind set and solutions is not going to work. At the same time, when I look at the list of unique abilities of our so-called “learning-challenged”, I see individuals who posses the unique skill set needed to solve many of today’s problems. With this in mind, I think it is time to begin removing the stigma and begin viewing individuals with what we have historically called “learning disabilities” as “learning opportunities” for the rest of the world by celebrating their gifts.
How is this possible? Where could we start? We can start in the home or in the classroom by asking questions that help us discover how others see and learn the best. Creating opportunities where there is no right or wrong answer is a great way to promote unabashed brainstorming and strengthen one’s sense of self. Finally, we can encourage the creation of innovative solutions even if they don’t seem plausible at the moment, because they foster novel problem-solving and original thinking. Remember, at one time cell phones or home computers were not considered plausible.
For more information about the I Create What I Believe! Program