A few weeks ago I sent a newletter containing Part One of an interview with my son regarding growing up with a label of learning disabled.
I apologize for the delay in sending out Part Two. Unfortunately, we live in the area hit so hard by hurricane Ike. We were without power for over two weeks and I am just now getting back to maintaining my website. Just want to let everyone know that I'm still here and looking forward to getting back to writing for BellaOnline. I plan to post a new article this week. In the meantime please review Part One of the following interview in the event you have forgotten how we arrived at this point.
Interview continued - Part Two
I ask him the following questions and his responses follow:
1. How did it make you feel as a child growing up with the label of slow learner?
Shawn: It made me feel different, like an outcast. I always felt that I didn't fit in and that I was looked upon as stupid.
2. How has it affected you in your adult life?
Shawn: I became very unreliable in my adult life. I was unsure of myself so I learned to articulate very well and worked hard at proving my worth through hobbies and creative work. I was very much and still am concerned about detail in the things I create. However, I have failed to take responsibility and became deeply involved in my early twenties in self medicating with drugs and alcohol. As I get older I still try to prove my worth by learning new
techniques to accomplish things I need to do.
3. Do you now believe you had a learning disability or do you believe that you just learned in a different way than other children?
Shawn: I now know that I was smarter then I was given credit for being but I lacked comprehension. I believe that because I was treated as learning disabled it slowed down my ability to advance and to learn. As an adult I have figured out ways to teach myself how to read, spell and perform math at a more advanced level. I now realize that I have much more ability than I ever believed I would be capable of reaching.
4. If you could change anything about your school years what would you change?
Shawn: I would have worked harder at being focused on the things I needed to learn. I now wish I would have gone to college but I bought into believing that I wasn't college material and that I would struggle all of my life with a learning disability.
5. What would you say to parents today about allowing their child to be labeled?
Shawn: Be very careful of what you are told about your child. Check and double check to see that the person or persons labeling your child are qualified to make that call. Ask for alternatives prior to labeling and request and seek as much information as possible about how school staff desires to label your child. Seek training and knowledge for yourself as a parent concerning the label school administrators and staff desire to place on your child.
6. If you had a child with similar difficulties as those you experienced as a child how do you think you would handle the situation?
Shawn: Seek out as much information as possible including professional assistance. Work on being patient with the child and those working to assist him/her. Learn as much as possible about the supposed disability.
Is there anything else you would like to say on this subject?
Shawn: Never believe that you cannot learn. Don't give up on yourself. Don't listen to everything other people tell you and work hard to realize just how strong you are. Don't always believe it when other people tell you that you aren't capable. Love yourself no matter what. Your life is a canvas; the next thing you paint may be the best yet!
Shawn is doing much better in his life these days. He reads daily for enjoyment as well as learning new things. He stopped self medicating himself several years ago and now owns his own home. He takes care of himself well and as far as I can see is capable of doing anything he sets his mind to do.
His father and I of course wish that we had been financially able to provide more to him during his school years as far as assistance is concerned.
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Deborah Pipas, Disabilities Editor
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