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Learning Differences: Ending Marginalization of Different Minds

Updated on July 17, 2016
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I have a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. I've been a Goth since age fourteen, and a Pagan since age fifteen.

Image courtesy of Teerapun /
Image courtesy of Teerapun / | Source

Any disability is labeled as such to suggest that the person is incapable of something. A physically disabled person in a wheelchair may be perceived as incapable of achieving much because of their condition, but this is false. There are many brilliant, successful, people in wheelchairs. Think of the brilliance of Stephen Hawking. Where would we be without him?

Not all disabilities are visible to the eye, however. Some are learning-oriented. The title "learning" suggests it only affects what happens in a classroom. In reality, it involves everything that person does. At the same time, that label "disabled" is created to debilitate the perception of the condition. It makes everyone translate it to "incapable," rather than merely a term to help explain how that person's mind functions.

Disability in Media

Many films and documentaries have been made, over the years, with the same message: Learning differences do not disable success. Some films are based on true stories while others were merely inspired by society's misconception of the disabled community. Each film that is released with this in mind helps the community strengthen itself and carry on. The other goal is to get the non-disabled public to reconsider their own prejudices of those who are different.

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HBO: "I Can't Do This, But I Can Do That" (2010)

HBO released a documentary for families of children with learning differences called "I Can't Do This, But I Can Do That." It explores the lives of several children. It goes into how their families help them succeed. Each child has a separate learning difference. Some of these include dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and auditory processing disorder. Each story connects through the same struggle between the way society expects them to learn and how they learn as individuals.

"Whenever I hear someone refer to a learning difference as a disability I get kinda mad because it's not a disability. If they have a preconceived notion that a difference is a disability your expectations drop, amazingly. I can do better than that."

John, I Can't Do This, But I Can Do That

Eustacia Grandin: Different; not less.

Julia Karin Ormond, Temple Grandin

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / | Source

HBO - "Temple Grandin" (2010)

Based on the true story Temple Grandin is a film about an autistic child of four years old who grows up to become a doctor of animal science. She changes the meat industry by thinking like the animals being bred for consumption. Her autism becomes a tool to improve the conditions of slaughter houses in order to make them more humane. Temple designs safe dips for cattle, allowing them to carefully move from the enclosure to the bath. In addition, she designs other structures for the cattle to walk all the way to where they're stunned without being frightened. Today, Temple is recognized as an innovator, author, as well as an activist.

"My mother was told we would be in an institution for life, but she refused to accept this."

Steven, Miracle Run

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / | Source

"Miracle Run" a.k.a "The Unexpected Journey" (2004)

Miracle Run tells the story of two autistic brothers, Steven (Zac Efron) and Philip (Bubba Lewis) Morgan. After their diagnosis, they are kicked out of their regular school. To continue their education, their mother Corrine Morgan-Thomas (Mary-Louise Parker) hires a tutor who specializes in autistic children. Through years of home education, both of her sons are able to succeed at their individual passions: Steven loves to run and Phil plays guitar. Later, their mother creates The Miracle Run Foundation for people with autism.

Other Films about Learning Differences

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

The Other Sister

Rain Man

Scott Sonnon a.k.a Nonnos Ttocs: Dyslexia

As a dyslexic, Scott Sonnon speaks out for those with dyslexia by telling his own story of being abused and overcoming discrimination. He uses humor to delivery his story, which is hard to swallow at times. His message to the audience is that people need to be allowed to learn in their own unique way; not by being controlled. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and punishment does not lead to improvement.

Most learning differences require foundations to get the word out, but not every type has a special foundation to promote awareness. Not all types are visible or spoken about on the news. Society needs to be aware of how others learn. The easiest way for people to be more peaceful is to not expect the person they're communicating with to have the same mind as they do.

© 2014 social thoughts


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