Are you concerned about your child’s dyslexia or ADHD? Of course these learning disorders can be hard for them at school and in later life.
But don’t despair; there can be some positives.
Advances in brain science and other fields mean that dyslexia and ADHD are now much more responsive to treatment. Also, these conditions are often accompanied by a number of strengths that can set them apart from other students.
In many educational and medical settings, common learning problems such as attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia are viewed from a deficits model. Under this approach, an expert makes a diagnosis by assessing a person’s behaviour or thinking abilities. If the child has a deficit compared to typically developing individuals, he or she is given a diagnosis of ADHD or a learning disability, for example. While there are some historical and scientific reasons for approaching learning differences in this way, many patient advocates are calling for a move toward a “strengths-based” approach to understanding these conditions.
In recent years, the autism community has gained attention for a novel way of looking at autism spectrum disorders. Many individuals in the higher- functioning Asperger’s syndrome category embrace their diagnosis with pride. Calling themselves “Aspies,” these people say that they recognise their information processing differences but would not want to be “cured,” even if a successful treatment for autism spectrum disorders were available. Rather, the Aspies celebrate their learning differences and say that their different way of approaching the world has a lot to teach others.
Famous authors Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald struggled with dyslexia. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Airlines, has ADHD but put his strengths of creativity and curiosity to work as an entrepreneur. Looking at these role models (and many, many others) and taking a strengths- based perspective gives people living with these diagnoses a better opportunity to understand their own unique strengths and contributions. If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADD or dyslexia, what strengths do YOU notice?