Skip to main content

(this is an edited re-post of a diary I originally wrote way back in 2007)

But I have a somewhat different perspective, and I'd like to share it.  I'm learning disabled; I also have a PhD, am married, have two kids, a good job, and so on.  Plus a degree in special ed (although I don't teach).  AND I'm writing a book (if I can make myself stop BLOGGING so much!)(and I am STILL writing this book. Who knows? Maybe it will be published one day).

KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic. There are two parts to each diary. First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and/or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.

I have nonverbal learning disability, and I am disabled.  There are things that most people can do that I am not able to do.  OK, everyone has SOME things they can't do.  But I have more, and they are more unusual.  I get lost a lot.  I fail to recognize people (I mean REALLY - it once took 30 seconds to recognize my father!).  I have a lot of spatial problems.  I misplace things.  I have trouble with directions.

And I have a diagnosis (although never formally given) - Nonverbal Learning Disability.  It's a label.  It's a box.  It's very, very useful.  It helps me find resources that can help me, it helps me know I am not alone, it allows me to know that I am not lazy, crazy, or stupid. Although people have repeatedly called me all those things....including professionals (although they used SLIGHTLY different language for 'stupid').  To euphemize this to 'learning difference' to me, does a disservice to ALL involved.  A difference makes it sound minor, or like a choice I might make.  It lumps me with all the neurotypical folk  (neurtypical - or NT - is 'normal people'.  It's an acronym for people who don't have one).  EVERYONE has learning differences.  That leads to me (or a kid with LD) thinking: Since I have so many problems, I must be LAZY, CRAZY or STUPID.  Nope.  Disabled.  Done right, it's an empowering word.  

At the same time, though, a diagnosis is a box.  I have symptoms of NLD (but I am good at math and have a sense of humor - which we are not supposed to have); I have symptoms of Asperger's syndrome (but not the obsessive interests); I have symptoms of high functioning autism; I even (ahem) have areas of giftedness.  The only diagnosis that REALLY fits me is being Peter.  THAT'S me.  

At the same time, my disability, while it is quite real and somewhat disabling, does not fully define me.  I have many traits utterly unrelated to it....I'm an atheist who was raised as a Jew.  I'm a liberal.  I'm a statistician.  I'm a husband. I'm a father.  I'm a New Yorker.

People do NOT fit into boxes, but the idea of the box can still be useful.  Even empowering.  And just because I am DISabled, doesn't mean that I am not also ABLED.

Some resources for people with problems like mine:

My web site I Am Learning Disabled

The Yahoo group: NLD in common

The link above to NLD on the web
There are many good books, my favorite is It's so much work to be your friend by Richard Lavoie

A talk (warning: PDF) I gave at a conference.

and if anyone wants to see the current draft of my book (to be titled "Screwed up somehow, but not stupid") just e-mail me.

thanks for reading

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site