The Hidden Cost of Learning Differences.
The educational and employment implications of dyslexia and other learning difficulties are well documented. While there have been many books written on Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADD, ADHD and more, these often overlook the emotional cost and impact that you may have experienced as a result of struggling through school or working life with little or no support.
In the past, Learning Differences were call Difficulties, and in doing so failed to acknowledge the many people who, with or without an official diagnosis, went onto achieve their goals and aspirations. It also implied that there was little that could be done by way of help or assistance.
What you may experience
1. Everyone’s experience of their Learning Difference is unique to them and effects different aspects of their experience of work or education.
2. Some of the possible emotional effects of having a Learning Difference can leave the individual with lifelong feelings of Inadequacy, Shame, Guilt, Ignored, Stupid, Thick, Misunderstood and Unseen.
3. You may have had the wish to expand your world, but are left feeling that certain doors are closed to you, leaving you with the frustration of feeling that you are never able to reach your full potential.
4. Feeling lost or adrift within education or that education is just not for you. This can stop you from approaching re-training and career advancement or turning your life in a new direction, feeling able to follow a lifelong ambition or dream.
5. You may find yourself with feelings of anger at you experience in school or at your employer.
The challenge for an individual with a Learning Difference lies in feeling able to take control of their own learning, understanding their unique needs and in finding ways to gain access to the learning and opportunities they desire. The answer is found in understanding that nothing is beyond a truly independent learners grasp.
1. Talking to a Counsellor or Psychotherapist that really understands the difference and the impact that your Learning Difference has had on your life can help, by offering you a new perspective on your experiences and by accessing parts of your Learning Differences to enhance your time whether this is at work or studies when back in education.
2. It is important to understand that Learning Difference does not mean an inability to learn. These labels simply indicate that different people access information in different ways. The true ‘difficulty’ lies, not in the individual, but in the surrounding environments inability to meet an individual learners needs. Differences in learning styles do not lessen what any individual has to offer.
3. What appears to be a disability from one perspective may be a gift from another. Learning Difference often come with untapped natural abilities that are ignored as being unimportant. Acknowledging and accessing these abilities can help to promote your self-esteem, understand more clearly the contribution you are able to make and improve your experience in an educational or work environment.
4. Understand the nature of your learning and working style. There is now a great deal of practical assistance within the education system and the workplace for adult with learning differences:
a. Diagnosis is the first step. Being assessed for Dyslexia, Dyspraxia Dyscalculia and others to find the right level of support is quick, painless and most often a very positive experience. There are various avenues though which assessment is possible (see links page).
b. A legal diagnosis is likely to entitle you to educational or work place adjustments. This can include providing you with computerised hardware and software designed to accommodate your working needs, as well as adjustment in working spaces, deadlines and methods of communication. This can offer you the opportunity to work in a manner better suited to your style. This can support you in unlocking your true potential and allow you to demonstrate your true level of understanding and expertise in your chosen field.
c. Colleges and Universities have Learning Support Departments, and can make Need Assessments for their organizations based upon your course requirements. These are normally free. Learning Support Departments will also ensure that your course leaders understand and acknowledge your individual learning style, and will inform you as to your educational entitlements under law.
d. It is also worth bearing in mind the law surrounding learning issues exist because they are far more common than you may think. You are not alone. Millions of people are working though similar issues and discovering that they do not, in fact, create a barrier to success. They merely mean you need to develop your understanding of how to access the success you deserve.