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How to deal with learning disabilities

Some personal observations

by Kendall Worth

Author Kendall Worth at age 16.  Photo contributed
Author Kendall Worth at age 16. Photo contributed

Earlier I talked about my disability of impulse control disorder. This is an article about the learning disability which I have had since I was a child.

I have struggled in school, and have had trouble doing homework. I have felt since my early school days that I could never learn without extra help.

When we think of learning disabilities we think of dyslexia (difficulty reading), dyscalculia (difficulty in working with numbers), or ADHD/ADD (difficulty concentrating).

However, doctors and specialists tell me that in reality learning disabilities do not have a neat name attached to them. They are just learning disabilities, according to those doctors. This is exactly what even my own family doctor tells me about my learning disabilities.

I have always had to find creative ways to overcome my learning disabilities. That's the case with 99% of most people who have learning disabilities, especially after they graduate from the regular school system.

As an old saying goes “one way of learning things is to learn by doing”.

I have found that to be the most important way of dealing with my learning disabilities.

Archie Gillis, my Entrepreneurs with Disabilities (EDN) Business Counseling Coordinator, thinks that my writing has improved quite dramatically over the past six years that he has known me.

By throwing oneself into the fire, with deadlines and responsibilities, such as being a board member of EDN, I have found that my personal communication skills have also improved!

In school, kids with learning disabilities are often labeled and made fun of by their peers. I speak from personal experience. We are often called names such as lazy, dumb, stupid, and retarded. In my personal case, this is exactly what I experienced back in my very early school days.

From my personal experience these are some of the things that are part of having a learning disability: difficulty remembering things, concentrating, studying, getting along with other students, writing, dealing with numbers, and more.

In my adult life, my learning disability affects the type of work I can do for a living. If I was to go back to Community College, or university to take courses, special study accommodations would have to be made for me.

Earlier I mentioned the creative ways one can use to deal with learning disabilities. One of these creative ways which I am referring to is entrepreneurship. There is a bit of history where some people have overcome their learning disabilities by going the route of starting their own businesses.

To provide some examples, did you know that Steve Jobs of Apple and Richard Branson of Virgin Airline both had learning disabilities? The entrepreneur known as Johnny Cupcakes said that he couldn’t find suitable work because of his learning disability. He went on to start his own small business, which now makes millions of dollars and employs many, many people.

I can relate to these people from my personal experiences as a self-employed contractor for Street Feat Magazine and in the numerous other small business ventures I have attempted, such as postcard creation and marketing services and sales.

Some ideas have been a success and some have not, but all of the experiences have provided great learning and hands-on education for me.

The following things describe the creative steps which I have personally taken to try and overcome my learning disability, and what it has taught me.

After graduating from high school, unlike others I have known with learning disabilities since I was a kid, I got my first real job of unloading fishing boats. After a while I learned I could not handle doing that type of work. I ended up causing an incident that got me fired.

I then left home to explore other places in Nova Scotia. I lived in Halifax, then the Valley for a short period of time in my life, and then returned to living in Halifax. While I lived in the Valley I did a lot of seasonal farm work. I learned I could not make a decent living from doing that type of work.

Once back in Halifax and got involved with selling Street Feat. From doing this I picked up a lot of skills. And I learned that this is something I am very good at.

In conclusion, this article provides some personal experiences of dealing and coping with my learning disability. I hope that it can provide some ideas for others struggling with similar issues.


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