The unexpected gift of having a learning disability

Published on 18 June 2024 at 19:33

I can remember when I was first diagnosed with a Learning Disability I did not consider it a gift that I wanted. As a small child I thought of it as burden and a hinderance to what I wanted to do. I was handed a package that contained a diagnosis that I wanted to take back. To my dismay I found that the gift had a no return policy. It felt like everyone else was opening the gifts I wanted such as doing well in school, making friends and being successful. Little did I know that having a Learning Disability would turn out to be a gift that would help me and others.

The first gift that having a Learning Disability gave me was becoming an expert problem solver. What many people don’t understand about Learning Disabilities is the person can learn, they just need a different way to do things. Math is my biggest struggle of my disability. Despite interventions I only have a basic understanding of it. My dad often told me that it’s not that I can’t do it, I have not found an effective way to learn it.. I have been successful in other areas with the appropriate accommodations. The endless flashcards, and worksheets in math were little help. I have had people suggest basic adult education classes and don’t understand why those don’t work. People who are Neurotypical study work hard and are successful. Having a Learning Disability means that I have to not only work hard, but try additional ways to learn how to what the neurotypical person does. Even with the new learning methods there is no guarantee that I’m going to get a certain grade on a test or a class. Learning Disabilities are neurological conditions that deal with how the brain processes information.

I will often encounter situations in my every day life that I have find new ways to do things. Often times I will regress an forget previously learned information. I will have to try and fail many times. Thankfully I have family and teachers who encouraged me not to give up and try to find a different way to do things.

The second gift that having a Learning Disability has given to me is noticing details that other people may miss. I am not able to drive because of my visual perception. I often have to walk to where I need to go. One of my favorite things to do while walking is to take pictures of flowers and other unique things on my walks. My husband will often ask where I saw something at when I show him a picture. I’m bad with directions and usually get him confused when I try to tell him. I can capture unique things that many people don’t see when they are concentrating on driving.


The third gift of having a Learning Disability is empathy. I understand that everyone is unique with different strengths and things they struggle with. I use empathy with the students I work with that have disabilities. I know what it is like to be a student with a disability. I am able to work with them and encourage them. I am also able to show them how to advocate for themselves. Many people think that Learning Disabilities will go away when they get older or they are contained to a classroom. Individuals with Learning Disabilities struggle not only in the classroom but in the community, at home and in other settings. A Learning Disability also doesn’t end at graduation. Managing a Learning Disability is a life long journey that requires accommodations.

A Learning Disability was not a gift that I originally wanted, but now I wouldn’t take it back. Having a disability would make life easier, but I would have missed out on so many things without it. The gifts of a Learning Disability have helped me to find new ways to do things. I have also become more observant of not only myself but the needs of others. How much I would have missed if I wasn’t given the gift of having a Learning Disability.




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