A Manifesto from a Teen with Learning Disabilities

Stop Child Interrupting in Classroom

My daughter wrote this manifesto for a Literature class her Senior year in High School, and I was so taken by it that I worked with her to edit it for publication for ImpactADHD. I hope you can use this to inspire your kids!! It’s straight from the mind and keyboard of a bright young woman who struggles with Dyslexia, ADHD and Anxiety. Names haven’t been changed to protect any innocents, but there has been a lot of spelling corrected! 
  ~ Elaine

A Manifesto for Kids with Learning Disabilities
By Sydney Taylor-Klaus

To My Fellow Learning Challenged Kids,

I have a simple message for you: with acceptance, communication, and support you can overcome the limitations of your learning differences. You can read on, or watch the video I created on this subject – whichever learning style works best for you!

I know from personal experience how much you have suffered. I have been in the cave of sorrow that you think you discovered. I know how alone you feel, and how much you put yourself down. I have been told, and have told myself, that I am stupid and can’t do anything.

I, however, have also made it out of that h#**hole. I have embraced my differences, my challenges, my diverse outlooks on the world. And I have turned them into strengths and positive qualities, rather than attributes to hide.

It is a sad truth: some people go through life thinking they are stupid because they have learning challenges that prevent them from learning the way others do. In “Is It ADHD, a Reading Disability or Both?” Jennifer Hasser explains that kids with undiagnosed learning challenges may feel embarrassed or inferior to their peers. These kids are stripped of their opportunity to contribute to their families, their communities — and even to the world — because they are not able to live up to their full potential. They have not learned how to learn.

My peers, it is never too late!! You have a chance to help yourselves. You have the time, while still in school, to gain the knowledge expected of you by society. Your job is to learn HOW to learn the material they teach in school.

You are in the company of brilliance. 

This is easier said than done, but undoubtedly doable. There are many success stories out there, and many successful people who have learned to manage their learning differences. For example, Steve Jobs was dyslexic and still managed to found Apple. Henry Ford was also dyslexic and designed the first working automobile. If you still aren’t convinced, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison both suffered from learning challenges and were still extremely successful in life. The list goes on and on. You are in the company of brilliance. 

So how can you overcome your circumstances and learn how to learn? There is a very simple path with only 4 steps.

Learn How to Learn in 4 Steps

1. Acknowledge that you have learning differences/disabilities/challenges, (whatever word you want to use is fine). 

The Nile is not just a river in Egypt. You must leave the state of denial before you drown. Pretending there are no challenges makes it especially hard to learn to manage them and overcome them. EVERYone has something challenging in their lives – at least you know what yours is!

2. Become confident and proud of how your brain works, no matter how different it is. 

Instead of seeing your learning differences as something bad, look for a new perspective. Your different wiring offers you a new lens to look at the world. When you accept your learning differences as a part of you, you won’t be angry and embarrassed. If you think about it, your’e not embarrassed because your eyes are blue or your hair is brown, right? Your Learning difference is just part of who you are. It is time to stop being ashamed about how your brain works. I guarantee there’s something about it that’s really cool!

3. Actively try to find ways to learn. 

There are many ways that you can learn to work through your learning differences. You must be willing to ask for help and accept help offered to you. There are strategies that are really effective – but only if you are willing to try them. You (and your parents) can get a lot of information and help from: Learning Disabilities Association of America, International Dyslexia Association, The Edge Foundation, and ImpactADHD. But you’ve gotta be willing to accept help!

4. Finally, and in some ways most importantly: know that you are not alone.

There are tons of people out there who are in the same situation as you, if not a worse one. There are even kids whose parents don’t tell them they have learning differences. Be thankful that you are aware that your brain is wired more creatively than most people’s – understanding that will improve your ability to learn.

Now, I know that this is not the only way to overcome your learning challenges. I’m sure there are many other suggestions, so I’m not saying that it’s “my way or the high way.”

BUT… I am saying that this is an effective approach to overcome your learning disabilities. In fact, this is how I overcame mine.

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