The Consequences of being Misunderstood and Receiving Labels.
Why are so many people with learning disabilities so frustrated?
Maybe because their wings are clipped. This can happen by the education system, by their surrounding and most of all by themselves, they keep alive the labels they once received, they focus on their weakness and/or on their failures. They forget their strengths and their successes.
Not all of us have equal talent, but all of us should have as an equal opportunity to develop our talents – John F. Kennedy
Not every person has the same learning style. By knowing that the education system is developed for the majority of the population and for example that 4 to 15% of the population has dyslexia. One could say that this can lead to some education problems, of which we can witness as we see how some children experience school.
Most of the education systems are based on the student who needs to adjust himself to the system. Those students who can’t adjust to that system often see themselves as a stranger, lazy or stupid, which is partly because they are treated in this way. As a result, all kind of frustration for the student, parents and teachers, with dropouts and many people who don’t reach their potential.
Luckily, things are changing, there is more awareness of learning disabilities/differences, and the education system becomes less rigid. There is some movement to adapt the system to the student as an individual.
Childhood experiences are for a part the foundation for adult live. Being understood or miss understood is one of those experiences, with all kind of consequences for their further live; for example they can’t reach their potential or even become a delinquent, of course, there are many people in between. However, it would be a great help for everybody, if they were accept as they are.
Instate of putting our energy in changing them, we could focus our energy on their strengths, their unique qualities so they can fully develop in the person they really are.
“It is the common error of builders and parents to follow some plan they think beautiful (and perhaps is so) without considering that nothing is beautiful that is misplaced. ” Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762), English society figure.
The consequences of being misunderstood
In general people with a learning disability/difference have the feeling that there is more in them; but in one way or another it won’t come to the surface; also parents and teachers have those feelings about the child. With the result that they expect that the child can perform better and in a way they are right. Only, without the knowledge of what is going on in the person and knowing how the person really function we are frustrated and can’t do anything about it.
“The same right-brained children who are being labeled and shamed in our schools are the very individuals who have the skills necessary to lead us into the twenty-first century. These children process visually and randomly, and think holistically. They are intuitive problem solvers who get the big picture. They thrive on visual imagery and stimulation; these “attention deficit” kids can spend hours with computer and CD-ROM programs that mirror their thought processes. It’s no wonder they are attracted to computers. The use of computers is congruent with the way right-brained children think.” – Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons
In general most people with learning disabilities, suffer from an environment that does not understand them. They receive all kind of labels which in the long run they are marked by it and therefore can’t reach their potential.
By not understanding, we give labels by little things we say or do. Because we don’t know how someone receives and interprets a message we are not always aware of the impact this can have on a person.
“It is a lonely existence to be a child with a disability which no-one can see or understand, you exasperate your teachers, you disappoint your parents, and worst of all you know that you are not just stupid” – Susan Hampshire, Past President, The Dyslexia Institute
Once we receive a label, it’s difficult to get rid of it. It’s possible we keep those labels alive and carry them around for the rest of our lives. As a result, we don’t belief in ourselves, we give up the battle or we just keep on fighting. Actually, we learn to cope with them and find all kind of ways to protect ourselves.
- Acceptance: After a while we says; ok, I’m lazy, not smart, stupid, disobedient, unwilling, clumsy and if I’m like that I will behave like it and so be it.
- Being indifferent: We give up the battle, reluctant to do something about it. It’s safer to stay in the comfort zone. No action is no disappointment for others and ourselves.
- Being shy: Taking no action and stay out of side; so nobody can give any comment.
- Behaves bad or as a clown: Preferring to be noticed as a bad child or as a clown than a stupid child and so they act like one.
- Being a rebel: If one feels attacked or judged unfair one will go in offence and start a war against school, parents and community.
- Becomes a gang member: In the worst case one becomes a gang member to prove him or herself and to take revenge on his environment.
“I see children today doing everything I did to try to stop people seeing their failings – disrupting the class, lurking at the back, faking illness, losing homework. Letters on a page appeared a meaningless jumble – with no more logic than alphabet spaghetti. But in my small village school I couldn’t really hide the fact that I was the class idiot.” Sophy Fisher: She eventually went to Cambridge University. Journalist.
In some cases, those roles are played for many years. In the meanwhile, because of their own actions, they receive confirmations of those roles from their surrounding. Which becomes a vicious circle and one adapt those roles as their own identity and reinforce it in every aspect of live. In the end, they know no better as that “I’m lazy, stupid, or bad” and they never find the real self behind the actors’ role. This causes only frustration and unhappiness.
Not everybody has the same experience. Many people with learning disabilities/differences manage well throughout life even become great examples. Still it would be a great help if people would understand differences. By understanding one could concentrate his/here attention on the positive sides, so each one could be more himself and reach more of his potential. This would be great for the individual and the society.
“I am somebody who had a horrible academic experience and came out of that to be successful,” Stephen J. Cannell. He wants to make teachers and parents aware that not everyone learns in the same way, and he encourages kids not to quit if they are having trouble in school. “Dyslexia Didn’t Stop Famed TV Writer” Article by A. Gusterman, October 2001.