1. You can’t be LD, you’re so bright! Ummm, you can be smart and LD, average intelligence and LD, or less than average intelligence and LD. Just like you can be tall and fat, tall and thin, or tall and average weight. LD means that you have a pronounced deficit in some area of learning. My deficits are entirely outside academic work: I have Nonverbal Learning Disability or something like it. My biggest problem in grad school was finding my way to the classroom.
2. You just need to try harder. Sorry, but no. My brain does not work the way yours does. There is something the *matter* with mine. It’s not a matter of will, or effort. It’s a matter of trying to figure out how to cope. You wouldn’t tell a blind person to try harder to see, would you?
3. Einstein / Da Vinci / Churchill was LD, and look what they did!. You know what? I’m not Einstein, Da Vinci, or Churchill. Almost no one is. That’s why they’re amazing. I mean, *you* aren’t LD and *you* haven’t done what they did, either, right?
4. It’s not so bad OK, fine. There are lots of people worse off than me. I admit it. Somewhere, there’s a starving quadriplegic orphan with AIDS, who is also a rape victim, and maybe she’s worse off than *anyone*. And I sympathize with them. Being LD isn’t as bad as some other disabilities, and certainly I don’t have the worst life – it’s actually pretty good. But LD sucks. Please don’t minimize it.
5. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses Yes. They do. But so what? Our differences in ability, in particular our deficits, are so great as to be disabling. For example, when I was 9 I took the WISC (an IQ test). It’s made up of subtests. Most people show some small differences – 110, 120, 100, 105 etc. across the subtests. I got subtest scores from 60 to 160. I can solve quadratic equations, but can’t figure out how to make the bed so it looks nice, or roll up my sleeves so they stay rolled up.
6. You need to discipline your child more/better/differently You don’t know. Our son, for example, over-reacts dramatically to any change in routine. *ANY* change. It freaks him out, and he *cannot* control it. It’s like a phobic reaction. Long term, he is improving, and we are working on it. But short term? It isn’t about discipline.
Peter Flom is a learning disabled adult. In 1965, his mother started the Gateway School, and he was the first student. He is very involved with learning disabilities, is working on a book on the subject, and has spoken about LD to several groups. He also has a PhD in psychometrics, works as a statistician, and is a husband and a father. His website is www.IAmLearningDisabled.com