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Learning Disabilities: Not Broken, Just Different

When you have a learning disability, it's easy to internalize that society is not set up for how your brain works and try to fight against it instead. But doing so doesn't make a person any more effective or functional, or any closer to how we perceive a "normal" person. The keys to living with what we term “learning disabilities” are understanding how you work, accepting what you find, and working with it. Parents of children with learning disabilities can achieve much by helping their child cultivate this mindset. There's no single approach to dealing with all learning disabilities. There's only narrow overlap between learning when you have ADHD, or learning when you have autism, or learning when you have dyslexia. For that matter, different people, even if they have similar brain chemistry or a comparable list of diagnoses, will benefit from different approaches. Sometimes, it can help just to be able to identify and name something your brain does if you have something like ADHA or dyslexia. Get information from your psychologist or counselor, and then do research in your own time. There are tips and tricks that help a lot of people, and the experiences of others are being added to a database of knowledge that's there for you to find and build on. Identify everything you can, and then see if the approaches of others work for you or your child. Often, the mental cleanup techniques that help people manage disabilities can function as multi-purpose focusing tricks for anyone, so you might pick up something useful for your life even if you and your child are “wired” differently. Start with a broad approach, and continue researching more specific terms and advice as you narrow down what helps and what doesn't. Keep an open mind about things that can help: Life-changing epiphanies aren't any less likely to arrive at 30 than they are at 15. An open mind aside, it's also important to be discerning when you're managing your own disability or, especially, looking for resources to help someone else with one. The history of stigma surrounding mental illness is far longer than its history of study, and this influences the way people approach it even when they're trying to help. Psychology as it exists now is just over a century old. Compare this to physics, which was studied by Ancient Greek philosophers. As a species, we're still learning. It may sound kitschy, but it can be life-saving to remember that someone whose brain is wired differently is different, not broken. Keep this in mind, and you're on the right track.

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