Learning Disabilities and Learning Styles

In The World Needs All Kinds of Minds, Temple Grandin shows the images of her brain and how her visual cortex is more highly used than in the control groups. She then demonstrates how this strength is what facilitates her work as an animal researcher and scientist. She believes that most tech geeks, scientists, and engineers fall on the Autism spectrum. Her point is well taken that there are a variety of minds and that as a society we benefit from this variety.

As I have worked with students that would be labeled with a variety of learning disabilities, I continue to wonder if it is not that there is something wrong with the child, but something wrong with the idea of standardization. We seem to value being at or above the mean in everything. But if we stop and think, this is not possible.

Seeing the images of Dr. Grandin's brain has made me wonder if the problem is not disability, which implies something negative, but rather under appreciated abilities.

I have worked with dyslexic students who are highly gifted auditory learners. Though these students struggle with the visual, they are highly talented auditorily and poised to make our world a better place by becoming acousticians, musicians, audio engineers, etc.

I have also worked with children who are considered hyperactive. These kids often think kinesthetically. There is nothing wrong with them other than they are our dancers, gymnast, athletes, aerobics instructors, personal trainers, and more. These children are meant to move. They think when they are moving.

Just as Dr. Grandin is a gifted visual learner who brings a strength of observation to our world, so other types of learners bring strengths and gifts to our world.

We need all sorts of learners and maybe it is time to begin to think, not in terms of disabilities and how a person does not fit the standard, but rather in terms of unique giftedness. Certainly there is a new term to be coined here, one that is positive that celebrates strengths rather than weaknesses.

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