Learning-Disability VS Learning-Difficulty

Learning Disability versus Learning Difficulty / Difference

This is the 2nd post of a serie of 12 by Marc from Ireland who struggles with dyslexia.

I started a few different blogs and struggled to find something which I felt had a comfortable flow to it. I eventually settled on the topic of Learning Disability V’s Learning Difficulty/Difference.

This topic came about following a conversation with a friend who read my first blogposts. He was praising me for finally having the courage to start this serie of blog posts as its something I have been talking about for some time. He then said he thinks that these blogs will have a very positive impact on people with “Learning Disabilities”.

That is a term I have always refused to used to describe my dyslexia and dyspraxia. Disability is a very negative term, it focuses on what you cant do not what you can, to say you have a Learning Disability.

Is just like writing my last blog post ‘You are not the only one with dyslexia‘ where I listed everything I find difficult and cant do, but without including the last paragraph which outlined how I have still managed to achieve everything I have set my mind to so far in life including graduating with first class honours.

Disability or Difficulty - Dyslexia

We are capable to learn…

Having dyslexia and/or dyspraxia is not a disability, they are challenges we face which make achieving our goals harder but they don’t make it impossible to achieve our goals.

People with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia are capable of learning, we just do it differently to everyone else. Our brains function differently to others. Messages get mixed up and we are challenged a lot more when it come to certain tasks but for someone to have the self motivation and determination to overcome these difficulties they must be positive.

Primary and secondary school were very challenging times for me. I found that no matter how hard I tried I was still failing exams or else just scraping a pass grade. In primary school we had our weekly spelling tests every Friday.

I would spend the week learning them, going through my spellings with everyone at home and after hours and hours of going over the words I would still be lucky on Friday morning if I came out with 1 or 2 out of 10 spelled correctly.

School made me angry and frustrated, it showed me everything I found difficult to do and then it would rub it in my face when everyone else in my class was capable of doing it. During this time in my life I was very negative.

I would try everything I could to avoid school, I would throw a tantrum and make home life difficult in the mornings before school and in the evenings when I came home from school. The only things school did for me was outline my difficulties and that made it even worse.

The positive circle

When I began to get support at school and my grades began to improve I then began to see all the things I was capable of. I could see that the education system is not designed for someone with a learning difficulties.

In order to achieve in the current education system you have to be able to do all the things which dyslexics and dyspraxics find difficult.

But I found that when I focused on the things I could do I felt happier in myself, when I felt happier in myself my grades improved further as I was no longer trying to avoid school.

The circle of positive

It was just like a circle, the more I focused on my abilities the happier I was and the happier I was the better my grades were which in turn helped me focus on my abilities.

It is for this reason that I have always believed that in order to keep going and struggle through with these difficulties you need to always be positive.

A small thing, big differences

Like I said, the word disability focuses on what you cant do, and when I focused on what I couldn’t do I felt that school wasn’t for me as it made me feel upset that everyone else was able to pass their exams while I was trying so hard but still failing.

The word difficulty acknowledges that I have a difficulty but it is not a negative term, it doesn’t tell me I cant do something, it just states that I will find a task difficult but still doable, this makes me happier in myself and its when I’m happy I have the energy to motivate myself and the determination to achieve what I want to.

This may seem like a small thing to someone who doesn’t have dyslexia but its the small things that can make the biggest differences.

Will not go away … but

Now I’m not saying that using the words Learning Difficulty or Learning Difference instead of Learning Disability made all my difficulties go away, that would be a ridiculous statement.

As outlined in my last post I have many difficulties that I still find extremely difficult to do and always will.

However in order for me to keep a positive mind I found that I had to always focus on my abilities. Even when I had my supports if I focused on what I couldn’t do I began to fall back into that dark place where failure in exams was the only possible outcome. this is why I prefer the terms learning difficulty or difference.

I look forward to hearing from you either with feedback or questions. and remember to always focus on what you can do instead of what you cant.


Mark (Ireland)

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