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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Learning Differences Instead of Disabilities and Special Needs

Dr. Hallowell ponders, “What if we could see a world of learning differences instead of a world of disabilities and special needs?”

Isn’t it  time to reject the model that emphasizes what’s wrong, disabled, disordered and diseased and replace it with a model that emphasizes what’s right, what’s good, what’s strong?

In that context, it becomes far easier to work on the problems, simply because the child and the parents are doing so in a context of hope and enthusiasm. Instead of feeling like a disabled child in need of treatment, the child can feel like a champion in the making, a member of the society of the magni cently minded. That switch in emphasis, I have learned, makes all the difference in the world.

If your child is struggling in school, take heart. His or her learning problem is likely a marker of talent. Sure, there is a struggle. Sure, you worry. Sure, you hate to see your child work hard and get poor grades.

But you can take steps to mine the gems. Be sure you are working with a professional and a school which can help you develop the talent, not just address the problems and struggles. You need to do both simultaneously, develop talent and address short comings but in an atmosphere that is free of shame and fear and full of hope and positive energy.

This is not spin doctoring. This is the truth. This is the method that works the best. Children with learning differences are some of our most talented children. But they need special help. Otherwise their talent can go to waste and they can lead lives of chronic underachievement. They usually can’t unwrap their gifts on their own. They need a great teacher, an angel of a coach, a parent who never gives up on them and works as their advocate. They need to know that at least a couple of people believe in them no matter what.

I invite you to join me in the great cause of changing the negative view of learning disabilities into embracing a positive view of learning differences.  Thank you.

LISTEN HERE for some expert insights on teaching children with learning differences in Dr. Hallowell’s “Distraction” mini Podcast #33 w/Marjorie Castro, Head of School at the Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, CT. Learn how specialized schools work to address each child’s specific educational needs and help them become successful learners.

If your child is struggling in school and you want to know more about “Inclusion  Classrooms,” read Understood.org’s 5 Benefits of Inclusion Classrooms.

Dr. Hallowell’s 20 Tips on Helping Children Succeed in School  for parents and teachers.



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