Archive for the 'Adults with Learning Disablities' Category

SELD 688 – June 15 – Self-determination

When considering the idea of self-determination, it seems almost horrendous how it must have been when others used to make all the decisions for a person with LD. Maybe this is due to my own sense of wanting to make my own decisions, for the most part. It’s not that I have to make all my own decisions, but perhaps more that there is a respect for my potential as a human being and that I can choose what’s best for me. Of course, whatever decisions I make have their consequences and I cannot ignore those. But, according to whatever my knowledge, understanding and ability is, it seems important for my, as a human being to be able to be self-determining. And should not this apply to any human being, as much as possible? I suppose the key here is when cognitively able. If someone is unable to cognitively function so that they understand implications and consequences, then that may be another matter. It’s so clear that LD is distinguished from less cognitively able. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a fairly widespread lack of knowledge of the differences.

I guess our social/cultural system is really still evolving to meet the principles of “all men being equal.” One thing that occurs to me again about anyone with LD is a human being first who has some differences or disabilities. But then, almost all humans are different from each other. However, it’s clear that people with LD have their own special challenges that can be addressed to help them navigate through the primarily non-LD world.

When the topic of self-disclosure came up, I thought of my interview with ‘Cindy’, the young woman with LD. She seemed quite adamant about not disclosing in her job situation unless absolutely necessary. In her case it seems like she is able to accommodate for her LD, but she said she would only disclose if there was difficulty in her work due to her LD. I can understand this to some extent, but then it might also be that by that point, management may not be so willing to hear about her LD or make accommodations. This was a insight into the continuum of risk assessment – between acceptable loss and potential gain of disclosing.

It also seemed that there may not be a very clear understanding of the legal implications of the ADA in the workplace. I had the sense from my interviewee that she found the benefit from the ADA in school, but that in the workplace it was not nearly so evident and the skills of self-knowledge, risk assessment, self-disclosure and self-advocacy could be very important skills for an adult with LD to have developed before they get into the work world.

There’s probably much more to be said. This class has been such an insight into the world of adults with LD as well as an insight into me. This has been a valuable insight into some of the diverse issues of working in adult education and I think will prove helpful as I continue traveling along this path.

Assistive tech

June 10

The community resources presentations were interesting in that for services like the DMV and voting there seem to be pretty widespread knowledge of LD and ways to accommodate. However, it was kind of amazing that the libraries seem to be uninformed about LD and really were mostly stumped by the idea of offering services to people with LD. I was touched by the story of the MIT grad student, Kurzweil, meeting Stevie Wonder on an airplane and getting the inspiration to create a scanning device that could convert written text to the spoken word. What a prime example of using technology for a helpful end. It seems like every library and even school should have a scanner with this ability.

I looked on the web (http://www.kurzweiledu.com) and it seems the main thing that makes this work now is the software. There are now a variety of commercially available scanners that can serve the purpose. As well as converting text into words, the software has the ability to be used to strengthen comprehension with some other tools such as highlighting the words as they are being spoken and when writing, to speak each letter of the word as it’s being written to recognize any mistakes.

The video of the show, “I’m not stupid” was touching. It seemed to be very well done and also give a real insight and perspective into children and adults with LD. It was amazing to learn that Jackie Stewart has LD, thought he was stupid and dropped out of school at 15. I happen to know of him since my older brothers were interested in Formula One racing (which, by the way, is racing through twists and turns simulating the real road rather than going round in a circle, as some races do…). As a boy I used to hear about Jackie Stewart and knew that he was really quite an expert in his field and very well respected. I can see even today, as the film showed, his opinion is still very highly regarded. I never thought he was unintelligent. Clearly he has talent, knowledge and skills in his field. He seems to have found a very good fit for his work and also made and adaptations or accommodations he needs.

June 3 – Social skills, communication more than just words

It was fascinating to hear all the stories of people with LD who have become highly successful in their fields and life. I wish I could have studied each of them more. The 5 min presentation seems to have just barely given a glimpse.

It was also interesting to hear about aspects of social LD. Wow! How subtle social skills are. It’s really quite a complex subject and so much seems to be unconscious. The idea that only 7% of communication comes through words is incredible. It’s hard to really fathom. It makes sense and yet, I think we are still not so conscious of such factors as how we read facial expressions and gestures and intonation. There seems to be often such an automatic response. I guess these things also vary to some extent with cultural factors, too. The nuances of facial expressions or gestures in one culture may convey and entirely different meaning in another culture.

The idea of a “social skills autopsy” is interesting. Rather than punish for doing something that people w/o LD would recognize as inappropriate, take it as an opportunity to learn. Another idea that is almost essential when working with/teaching children with LD that could carry over to and, I think, prove quite effective for children w/o LD.

June 1 – Insight into a qualitative interview

Well, it was interesting to see how the presentations went on Monday. I kind of felt I didn’t quite do the interviews with a lay person and an employer quite on spot. Class confirmed it. I felt a bit of an odd ball. I was caught more in the stories and didn’t focus on the questions to get the data. As everyone was giving the responses to their questions they collected in their interviews, it struck me that this was an aspect of how qualitative research is done. Consistent questions are asked of selected groups and then the responses are analyzed. Yes, there must be other parts… how the people are selected, data is analyzed, etc. But having a set of questions that elicit responses about the subject of interest seems to be a key part.

It was also interesting to hear the responses given. Many people seem to know a little bit about LD and some had a pretty good sense, but there still seemed to be not really a clear picture – often thinking it’s AD/HD or even MR.

I’ve been listening to the tape of John Corcoran and also watched some videos online, interviews or him speaking. He really has a story and reading it on paper doesn’t really capture it fully. You get a sense, but when you listen to him or see him speak, more of the feeling comes through of what is like to be a person with LD. It’s much more alive.

May 27 – Persistence, Persistence

The video interview with the Dr. Oschsner, the MD was quite striking. One of the things that came through for me was the incredible persistence that emanated from her whole person. This was evident particularly in the intensity of her voice. A real sense of the adversity she has faced and passed through was transmitted. Clearly she has had many challenges and yet she never gave up, “failure was not an option”! Another thing that came through for me was the idea that, “just do it” is not really a choice for people with LD. It’s not simply a matter of effort. However, there are things that can help – specific instruction, coaching and particularly love and support.

It was really clear how the love of her family and their belief that she could succeed was critical in helping her move through the challenges of being a child with LD and even still as an adult. I believe she said, “If you feel loved, it is the best foundation.” The fact that her mom still serves a key role in keeping her office functioning smoothly was also interesting. It seems that when you are a young person with LD it is really a very challenging time. It still seems to be challenging as an adult, but as a young person it seems like the challenges of LD are quite scary.

It was interesting to hear more of the story about the first year teacher with LD that we read about. How he faced successive challenges as a teacher and then decided for another field of work. Even though he seemed to be quite talented as a teacher of special education, end the end the demands of working in a bigger school system put things over the limit as far as stress level and, I guess, anxiety.

One of the things that strikes me about a lot of the research findings about the model for success is that there are many things that could very well apply to people in general, not just people with LD. Reframing is one particular area that seems very interesting and one I could explore more for myself – the recognition, understanding and acceptance of my own strengths and weaknesses, and creating an action plan on how to work more effectively and efficiently with them. Yes, I have some awareness of my strengths and weaknesses, but a systematic approach could be helpful.

What do you know?

Well, it was interesting to see how the presentations went on Monday. I kind of felt I didn’t quite do the interviews with a lay person and an employer quite on spot. Class confirmed it. I felt a bit of an odd ball. I was caught more in the stories and didn’t focus on the questions to get the data. As everyone was giving the responses to their questions they collected in their interviews, it struck me that this was an aspect of how qualitative research is done. Consistent questions are asked of selected groups and then the responses are analyzed. Yes, there must be other parts… how the people are selected, data is analyzed, etc. But having a set of questions that elicit responses about the subject of interest seems to be a key part.

It was also interesting to hear the responses given. Many people seem to know a little bit about LD and some had a pretty good sense, but there still seemed to be not really a clear picture – often thinking it’s AD/HD or even MR.

I’ve been listening to the tape of John Corcoran and also watched some videos online, interviews or him speaking. He really has a story and reading it on paper doesn’t really capture it fully. You get a sense, but when you listen to him or see him speak, more of the feeling comes through of what is like to be a person with LD. It’s much more alive.

Support, love and encouragment

What continues to strike me so far when learning about the people and issues that have had learning challenges or LD is how essential it is to for anyone with learning challenges (and I might go on to say, that for me, really anyone learning) is to have love and support. This seems really a key determining factor in most of the success stories that I’ve read so far.

The other amazing thing is to look at the stories of people who have been highly successful in their lives, despite being extremely challenged to read or write, to figure math, or to be organized. What inspiring examples to the need testimony of perseverance and belief in the possibilities that may be. It’s also interesting to note that many were driven by the frustration or anger of feeling like they were “dumb”, or that they were rejected by teachers and administrators or the system. They seemed to want to prove to everyone they could make it despite the challenges they faced. And I can understand that they didn’t publicized their challenges, the world would have castigated them and often did for how they didn’t fit the model of what was considered normal.

So often it seemed that teachers had such a set idea about intelligence having to do with reading, writing and the 1, 2, 3’s and that if one didn’t meet that idea one was cast out… One person called it not a ‘learning disability’, but rather a ‘teaching disability’. That seems quite right on. I think I have run into quite a lot of teaching disability in my own journey. What is there to learn from this? To understand that there are diffferent ways of learning? To realize that there may be intelligence despite one’s inability to read, or write to do math? Any still, what about those who are not so intelligence? Are they less of a human being?

One of the things that struck me was that for many who have gone through such challenges they seem to have developed a heightened ability to understand others, communicate, and have respect for others wherever they are. Even being in an advance position in their work life, they seemed be able to keep present to the fact that others may have challenges too. This seems to have come through the adversity and constant failure they faced and seem to continue to face. What a gift!