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Learning Disability? Or Variations in Styles?

Written By: Eddie Snipes - May• 31•11

Learning Disability Challenges

I’m a writer and a published author. No one knows I have a learning disability. Modern software provides the tools that help me overcome my reading disabilities and dyslexia.

Reading disabilities are one of the most common problems challenging today’s students. This is especially prevalent Learning Disabilityamong boys. Effective learning is dependent upon quality reading comprehension. A child that can read can learn almost any academic skill. The opposite is also true. Children with a learning disability will struggle in their education. Fortunately, tools are available today that were incomprehensible a generation ago.

Children with a Learning Disability

Public education is handcuffed by the masses. Though children have different learning styles, mass education does not permit customized learning for each child’s needs. Most schools design curriculum for the average student, and children who don’t fit into that mold will struggle.

Many struggling children go on to discover their own hidden talents after leaving the institutionalized learning process. Two well-known examples are Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. Both had a learning disability, and both were considered to be lacking in intelligence. The problem wasn’t the absence of intelligence, but an inability to learn through a method that doesn’t match their thinking processes. However, for every Einstein that breaks out of the mold, there are thousands who go through life believing they aren’t intelligent enough to excel in anything but unskilled labor. For many years, this was my own outlook. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I discovered I had a knack for technology and left warehouse work to become an IT professional.

Maybe this situation applies to you or someone you know. Whether it’s a student struggling, or an adult left behind by the system, learning should be looked at as a lifelong process. Each person has skills untapped. These will remain hidden until the person reengages in the learning process and explores until they find their niche. Most students with reading disabilities are audio learners. They may like hands-on work, but hearing the spoken word breaks through the disability barrier and shows a side of learning they may not have known existed.

Learning Disability – One Solution

For the last decade, advancement in text-to-audio technology has provided a way to meet that need. Audio learning opens the door to new skills, education, and exploration of books and ideas. A student who struggles with reading comprehension has an open door to learn by listening. The technology has advanced to the point where the computer voice sounds natural and clear.

As a writer and published author, I can proofread my work with a quality that hides my disabilities from the reading world. Few people know I have reading disabilities. The ability to learn through audio has given me valuable knowledge, and hearing the work read back to me has dramatically improved my proofreading skills.

I’ve tried many products, and I prefer NextUp’s TextAloud with the RealSpeak’s Tom voice. This is also the voice used in the Kindle ereader.

Regardless of which product you use, it’s important to protect a student’s self-esteem. Utilize the tools available so children can discover their hidden potential. Different styles of learning do not devalue the individual, and dyslexics often have strong creative skills.

Is it really a learning disability?

To be lacking in one area often means someone is gifted in another area. Though a student may not fit into the ‘norm’, it’s important for them to realize their gifts are valuable. Individuals must have the freedom to discover those gifts. Reading is a powerful tool in that process.

Until now, I’ve used the term ‘learning disability’, but this is not entirely accurate. A person who can’t catch or hit a baseball isn’t called disabled. Nor is the one who can’t sing or play a musical instrument. Differences in skills are only looked upon as disabilities when it comes to learning styles. In truth, calling variations in abilities a handicap is not accurate. An audio learner shouldn’t be treated as inferior because they have a different set of skills. The truth is that different people learn in different ways. When students are allowed to learn according to their individual style, gifts emerge. These abilities are lost in institutional learning since not every style is applied to the student body.

Parents should provide a learning method according to a child’s style of learning so they can discover their gifts. Adults also should seek out new ways to learn according to their abilities. A duck doesn’t overcome its inability to run by forcing itself to do what is unnatural. In the same way, audio learners should focus on their skills, not fret over abilities they lack. A world of learning awaits. Valuable skills are hidden within each person. Discover your gifts and accept the fact that some gifts are not part of your makeup. Find ways to gain knowledge according to the way your mind works and discover the world of lifelong learning!

If you’d like to find out more about Text Aloud, <click here>.

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4 Comments

  1. I would have never known, Eddie. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. I’m forwarding your post to another writer who has a similar struggle. Thanks!

  2. Eddie, your post is powerful because of the insightful truth. I hid my reading handicap for years while successful in the workforce with key titles and responsibilities. With answered prayers and God at my side, I graduated from college with honors and years later taught in the college of business. God doesn’t make mistakes. He just gives us cause to come to Him continually when challenged.
    Thanks for sharing this post. It’s an encouraging piece. I hope another challenged reader on the path of writing comes across this gift of inspiration.
    Write on!

  3. Thanks, Eddie, for championing those with reading challenges. I am the mother of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, and although he is a strong reader, I can pass this link along to many other parents with kids on the spectrum. Many of these parents homeschool, so they will find this info lifesaving. Blessings to you and your writing,
    Kathy

  4. Eddie Snipes says:

    Thanks! I hope this article is an encouragement for others.

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