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Learning Disorder or Genius? Why parents & teachers are getting it wrong.

He loves rockets, legos, & playing minecraft.

He loves to read, but only rocket books in the non-fiction section. His parents think he is probably only looking at the pictures instead of reading the actual words. He tests average in school and struggles with math. Homework is a nightly chore and often there are tears when it comes time for Devin to finish his math worksheet. Devin could talk for hours about minecraft or rockets and often does on car rides alone with a parent. Devin’s teacher is concerned that Devin doesn’t do well in his school reading group and cannot pass the comprehension test after each book. His parents and teachers are beginning to think he has a learning disorder.

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We’ll get back to Devin and his learning disorder in a moment, but first, let’s talk about some REAL LIFE Geniuses you may know…

Meet Albert.

Albert was labeled a slow-learner as a young child in elementary school. He got average grades. Albert loved to stack a house of cards and got very good at it. He also loved to build toy models. Albert struggled with long division and hated to memorize. He didn’t like sports and was considered by many as “dull-witted”. He teacher suggested that he leave school at 15, which he did. Albert Einstein became a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, famous for his theory of relativity and contributions to quantum theory and statistical mechanics.

Meet Thomas.

Thomas was a daydreamer. His teachers labeled him “addled” and a slow learner. His mother decided to homeschool him instead. Thomas Edison became the most famous and productive inventor of all time, with more than 1,000 patents in his name, including the electric light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera. He became a self-made multimillionaire and won a Congressional Gold Medal.

Meet Walt.

Walt struggled in school and was dyslexic. Walt dropped out of school at 16 and became an artist instead. Walt Disney became a multimillionaire founder of the Walt Disney Company and after winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he received an honorary high school diploma at age 58.

Meet John.

John was a poor speller and had serious problems in school. He later found his love for music and lyrics. John Lennon started a band called The Beatles, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest pop songwriters of all time.

Meet Thomas.

Thomas struggled in school and his teachers said he was incapable of learning. He didn’t read until he was nine. Thomas Jefferson became the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, third president of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia.

Meet George.

George had trouble spelling and was told he had trouble learning. George Washington became probably the best known founding father of the United States and the first U.S. President.

Learning Disorder or Genius?

One of the greatest tragedies of education is our attempt as parents, as teachers, to label our children. Whether we label them as difficult, a daydreamer, hyperactive, dyslexic, or as having a learning disorder, we attach with it a negative connotation. What does this do to our children?

I believe it inhibits them from becoming who they are.

Take standardized tests. You’ve got children from all backgrounds, with various strengths and weaknesses, all testing on the same standard curriculum that they may or may not fully comprehend. You’ve got children who read slowly yet excel at memorizing and children who have mastered focus but can’t seem to work through word problems & multiple choice questions. How can any of these tests truly determine a child’s educational growth if we are using the same test on every child?

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