2e Tuesday::The Four Horsemen of the Learning Differences.

The Four Horsemen of the Learning Differences!

This post today is brought to you by Naturalist, who is starting to find her voice when it comes to having Learning Differences. She’s always been a very self aware girl, and at 12 is able to reflect even deeper on what it means to be ‘her’. Even though many things that she is starting to talk about happened when she was in school from K-3rd, this is the first time she’s expressed her feelings about them.

For a very long time, I felt like avoiding any labels for her was the best bet, so I didn’t address her frustrations and challenges as ‘disabilities’ or ‘differences’, I just talked about them like they were part of the wonderful reasons that made her, her. In a way, I celebrated the differences as things that made her “Unique!” and “Wonderful!”

I’ll tell you what, though. I don’t think this was the best thing to do in her case. This is a somewhat prickly and controversial subject, so I’m trying to choose my words carefully about it. But for her, it wasn’t being honest, and it wasn’t giving her the right tools and self talk to deal with the incredible challenges that come with being bright AND LD.

The truth about learning differences is that more often than not, they are brutal to a gifted mind that knows what it wants to do, what it should do, what it is trying desperately to do…and what it fails at doing. Not being able to spell, not being able to read, not being able to remember things that you KNEW only minutes before–there is no sugarcoating the high level of frustration that causes.

MY way of dealing with that in Naturalist was to give her pep talks, like, “you just think differently than other kids, but it’s good to be different and unique!” or “These are all things that make you who you are! I wouldn’t want you any other way!”. It was me, being Pollyanna. Being a cheerleader. Putting on my happy pants and rooting her on.

But sometimes, you’ve got to call a spade a spade. For me, that moment came after 2 1/2 years of hard core homeschooling…spelling every day, math every day, reading every day…and realizing that she couldn’t spell, read, or do math any better than she could 2 1/2 years before. She knew it, I was trying to run from it. I was hiding under my Polyanna blanket while she trudged along knowing something was stopping her from doing all this stuff but not knowing what it was. It was at that point that I started looking up and using ‘labels’ like dyslexia and dyscalculia. I thought it would make her upset and feel like something was ‘wrong’ with her. Turns out, she already felt that way. When I gave her a term for it, all of a sudden she had a reason for it. An answer. An explaination.

I bought her The Survival Guide for Kids With Ld: Learning Differences, which is a fantastic balance of being a cheerful book about Learning Differences while at the same time not sugarcoating the struggles or avoiding the issues. She devoured it in a week and from then on has found her ‘voice’ in the matter…something that had been missing until this point.

She has words to explain what isn’t working in her brain and strategies for how to deal with that frustration. She has determination to go ahead and do things, even if they’ll be 10 times harder for her than someone else. Most importantly, she understands that she’s not the only one dealing with it. It’s her goal to talk to other people ‘like her’, and help other kids who may not understand what is wrong.

She wrote a few sentences out about what it’s like to have Learning Differences, as well as came up with some graphics. I’ll share them here, even though it kind of makes me cringe inside. I happen to share many of Naturalist’s struggles, but her inability to punctuate or spell words is not one of them. I have an almost photographic memory for how words are spelled, even if I’ve never seen them. Every misspelled word is like a scream in my head, so when I read this I get kind of twitchy. But bless her heart, if I made her correct every mistake she makes, she would quickly stop writing altogether. I’d rather she express herself confidently and hire an editor than censor herself because she’s worried about mistakes. And that’s a life lesson I hope she’s got down cold.

Here is Naturalists explanation of being a 2e kid:

gifted

gifted means creativety, but schools dont let me create but thats how i lern, i lern thro doing, not siting and tests. then since we cant create we shut down cuz we dont know what there talking about and we get teazed for being “stuped”. we wont to get away from people cuz you trusted them, and then they tern around and sit and chant with the kids that chant “stuped stuped your so stuped” and you lern that if you open your mouth people are going to laph and if you trust you are going to get your heart torn out and if you live your going to sit with no friends and no familie cuz they think your a failyer.

symbolsLD

an a makes 2 sounds, rite? not to someone with simbols LD! like me, it was very hard to atach meaning to symbols! sometimes i can read something over and over agen but not get what it ses!

writingLD

writeing LD is when you spell the way things should be spelled, in school we would have spelling tests 10 words! the best i ever got… 3 words, 3 WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but normaly i got 0.

readingLD

LD means lerning disorder, but now lets think of it as lerning difrence! i have reading LD i read things beter up side down backwerds and colorful! but when im reading normal things disupear, i skip lines, the leters and words dance on the page!

**************

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13 Responses

  1. I’m learning so much from the 4 of you! How can I be so dense after 63 years. I have so much to learn…I almost didn’t comment because I feel a little dumb!

  2. I LOVED this post!! Thank you!!
    We too have been struggling with the whole label or not to label thing.
    And I loved what your daughter wrote. I am also a perfectionist in the spelling department, and it has been hard for me to read some of the stuff my son writes, especially when I know he’s sending it off to someone else. Reading what your daughter wrote seemed very familiar to me in its own quirky phonetic way.
    Thanks also for the book suggestion, I will check into it!!!

  3. This is so helpful for me… to peek inside the mind of such a creative and unique .. and yes LD kid.

    Her thoughts are so honest .

  4. Thank you Naturalist for sharing your heart. It’s exciting to think how the Lord will work through you and this post to reach someone today.

    You and your family have already helped me view math differently. I just attended 3 sessions centered on math this past weekend at our state home school convention (I’m not sure I ever would done that in the past – I’m a math-a-phobe!). I actually thought of you guys while sitting in on them and seeing how fun math could be. The speaker explained how he views LD – learns differently. I thought well hey, we all “learn differently” some just more differently than others.

    So you see, hundreds of miles away, while mom posts about home school life with gifted kids and math games to try, I am here being inspired by your family’s uniquenesses!

    Thank you again for helping our family,
    Claudia (aka Cosi on flickr)

  5. I loved your comments, both of you. I loved your honesty, Tiff, and the way you clearly state what it is like to be a mom of an LD kid. I super loved how you wrote you can remember how to spell words and cringe when your kid mispells constantly because I feel like you do. Your daughter’s comments remind me of another little girl I knew in my daughter’s school class 2 years ago. The teacher just kept raising her voice at this child because she wasn’t moving forward quickly during a timed reading test, one-on-one with the teacher. It made me so mad then but now it makes me want to call that child’s parents and tell them to consider LD as a possibility for their daughter.
    She’s not stupid! Your daughter did a great job describing her world, and I learned a lot from her. Thank you!

  6. Hey, sweety, you really are smart. I love you just the way you are, so don’t ever feel like you should change. You are NOT stupid. The way you spell words makes more sense anyway. I hope to see you soon!
    Kenzie

  7. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! What an amazing post!

  8. It is so helpful to read about your journey with this. I think of my brother, my own attitudes toward it, my kids and myself. Thank you for sharing. And give Naturalist a hug for sharing her thoughts too.

  9. Labels are hard because they place us in a box that most of us don’t understand or want to be in. But if you fit the box then it can be a comfortable place. The world of psychology has made remarkable strides since I began my college so many years ago. it is a wonderful thing to look back and with hindsight see that these children have found a comfortable box and finally the world will let them grow, and let their box grow in a creative and personal way.
    Thanks so much for your post. I have one of these children and I struggle every day with questions about it all. The most beautiful story in your post is the love that you so beautifully share for your daughter by allowing her to find herself through homeschooling. And by allowing her gifts to lead you as you share the gift of family, learning, and life.

    Thank you. 🙂

  10. I love this post! I never really “got” school either. Math has always been very difficult for me, as well as keeping track of time and dates. I really have enjoyed reading through your blog. So much of what you write about hits so close to home with me, and has helped me as I try to figure out how to help my own children. And Brooke, you couldn’t have said it (or written it :o) better! I remember always thinking when you and Johanna would play together what a brilliant girl you are! I love people who think outside of the box! You have a pretty great mom too!

  11. This post got me a little teary-eyed. Thank you both so much for sharing. It so aptly captures the 2e experience. Unfortunately, the success of our kids’ educations are often judged by others based on their “output”–which often doesn’t reflect what’s going on inside.

    My 9yo has been diagnosed with the 3Ds–dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. We were told after testing that he’s “very bright and very learning disabled.” I’m so glad we can tailor his education to focus on his strengths. He knows that he has these learning differences, and that we can find ways to work around them or with them to help him achieve what he wants to do. When he gets frustrated, he can blame the LD rather than spend time thinking that’s he’s stupid.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  12. you know what , after all these months i found this post while i was net surfing. And I am exactly at this point .

    Thanks for the post !

  13. I am 25, and have learning disabilities..I remember trying to learn to read, my mom would write on flashcards with glue and glitter and sand…I would trace the words with my fingers as I said them aloud…that, (or perhaps it was my mothers close involvement) was key to my reading and comprehension skills…

    There’s a movie called Dyslexia I think everyone will find interesting. It looks into different teaching techniques utilized in teaching students with learning disabilities.

    This is a great little doucmentary, well Docu-comedy, and it is very funny.

    Capturedtimeproductions.com

    The movie studies the varying and unique approaches people take in dealing with Dyslexia. And how Teachers, Family and friends can help, as well as how Dyslexics like me can find our own ways of learning based on what our strengths are.

    The film takes a very positive look at something that many consider a disability. But we explore the strengths of being a different kind of thinker!

    Follow the blog at captime.wordpress.com to see the journey of this film, as Harvey Hubbell tries to use education and comedy to raise awareness, and show people that all of us learn in our own “special” ways!

    checkout our blog captime.wordpress.com…

    And think about this…as our teachers look for new ways to improve our failing education system they should look to those heroes who help learning disabled students everyday…Many techniques discovered by pioneering Special Ed teachers have been found to be useful for teaching ALL students…

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