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Life Is Not A Label--Lesson Plans

Life is Not a Label is a class about disability awareness and the HOPE that comes from transforming what our labels mean to us.

Jared Stewart

on 7 August 2017

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Transcript of Life Is Not A Label--Lesson Plans

He told me I was ill.
What an odd word.
People who are ill get to lie in bed,
Sipping soup and resting.
I have to get up and pretend everything is normal.
He told me it was the illness.
"It's the illness" He said,
That makes me think the way I do,
That causes my brain to see the world differently,
That makes me stand out from everyone around me.
Is it the illness that makes me want to sleep the years away,
When it is the illness itself that keeps me from sleep?
That makes it hard to concentrate,
And causes me to explode at the little things,
And makes me so afraid and lonely?
When I say “I am ill”—is that truly all I am?
And is it the illness
that makes me so sick of myself ?

Part 1: Labels and Labeling
Poems and Quotes
Diagnostic Labels
The most widely accepted definition used in DSM-5 describes mental disorders as:
behavioral, emotional, or thought dysfunctions that are
unexpected in their cultural context and
associated with personal distress,
increased risk of suffering,
or substantial impairment in functioning.
What is a “Disorder”?
A Layman’s Look at the DSM 5
Diagnostic Labels
Facilitates communication (verbal shorthand)
Ensures comparability among identified patients
Promotes research on diagnostic features, causes, and treatment
Cornerstone of clinical care and qualification for assistance (insurance, government, etc)
Diagnosis: Positive Aspects
The disorders listed in the DSM-V represent only the disorders that occur in mainstream American culture rather than a universal list of disorders to which all humans are susceptible

We cannot define abnormality without reference to the norms of some particular culture to define “normal”
Normal and Abnormal
Boundaries between disorders are often fuzzy
Gender and culture bias in application of diagnostic labels
Negative effects of labeling on other’s perceptions
Negative effects of labeling on self-concept
Arbitrary symptom cut-offs in diagnosing disorder
Reliability doesn’t necessarily lead to validity
Subjective judgments lower reliability
Self-fulfilling prophesy/Circular use of label
Distorting diagnoses to get insurance coverage
Label viewed as immutable
Redundancy of diagnoses
Inconsistency in the definition of the label
Political and economic exploitation
Categorical rather than Dimensional
Label can't predict outcomes or identify origins
Diagnosis: Negative Aspects
Diagnostic labels come from the DSM-5
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition

Book of symptom lists used by therapists to define “mental disorders”
Where do they come from?
Part of the DSM 4; now supposed to be noted along with other diagnoses as a part of DSM 5, but not explicit.
Axis 1 = Mental Illnesses (including developmental disorders and learning disabilities)
Axis 2 = Personality Disorders and Mental Retardation
Axis 3 = Medical Conditions (Physical Illness and Injury)
Axis 4 = Environmental Stressors (what has been going on in their life recently?)
Axis 5 = Global Assessment of Functioning
(what are they like when they are healthy?)
5 Axes of Diagnosis:
Life is Not a Label
Achieving Transformative Transcendence
Following the labeling event, individuals (and their parents) struggled with two main issues: (a) to understand exactly what having this label meant in terms of strengths and challenges, and (b) to resolve confusion as to what kind of help and accommodations would be needed.
“OK, so I have ________; and that means that I need to do _________”
Stage 3: Understanding/Negotiating the Label
All participants described a time when, although the problem had not yet been pinpointed, they were aware of being different from others.
“I think something is wrong…”
Stage 1: Awareness of a Difference
The most successful individuals reached a final stage of acceptance of their label in which they came to see the disability as a positive force in their lives—one they were actually glad to have had to deal with.
“I am thankful that I have had to deal with ________________, because my life is now better for it!”
Stage 5: Transformation
Once the extent and nature of the disability was clear, the next step successful individuals took was to place the disability in perspective relative to their other attributes, that is, to minimize its importance. In brief, the task of this stage is to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths—realizing that any label is only one small part of a person’s identity.
“This is a part of me; but it is definitely NOT all of me…”
Stage 4: Compartmentalization
After being officially “labeled,” individuals needed to not only identify which labels actually reflected their difficulties, but also to settle on their own terms to describe them.
“What you have is ____________, which is defined as…”
Stage 2: The Labeling Event
Learning Disabilities
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder(s) (ASD)
Dangers of Labeling:
The Rosenhan Experiment
Anxiety --The Label of Debilitating Fear
Depression: The Label of Debilitating Despair
Transformation: Stories of Success!
The Stanford Prison Experiment
More Dangers of Labeling:
Self-fulfilling Labels (Circular Bias)
Reliability Vs. Validity (Subjective Bias)
Final Projects--"What My Labels Mean to Me"
Disclosure and Self Advocacy
Celebrity Names
The 5 Stages of Dealing with a Label:
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
The Myth of “Normal”
“All people are real, in the deepest sense of that word. That means that there is no such thing as a non-human human. But if you look around this room, you will see people who look at least non-standard. And that is where the problem begins. We live in a country where image is kind of a reality more real than reality… Eagerness to be like others didn't make Pinocchio real — it turned him into a donkey! And eagerness by parents to cure autism or retardation or compulsiveness will not drive great distances toward the final solution to the actual problem. Because the person who believes ‘I will be real when I am normal,’ will always be almost a person, but will never make it all the way.”
~ Autistic Pride advocate Eugene Marcus
The Myth of “Normal”
“There is nothing more frustrating than the lifelong accumulation of scars that result from trying to be like normal people and failing daily. It is especially hard when your disability is invisible like mine. I spent almost forty-one years trying to be some kind of normal person that I was never meant to be.”
~AS/HFA spokesman Jerry Newport
The Myth of “Normal”
“Many Aspies feel the pressure to be ‘normal’. Society looks down on Aspies as bizarre, weird, and peculiar because they don’t run with the crowd. They want Aspies to conform to the norms of society. Aspies enjoy themselves because that is who they are. In fact, most Aspies believe they are ‘normal’ and think society is bizarre, weird, and peculiar. So the question is, ‘What is normal?’”
~ David Gratiot, ScenicView Academy
student with AS (used with permission)
Also Extremely Harmful:
The Myth of “Normal”
Often comes across as self-centered and self-serving to his peers
Physically awkward—very poor gross motor skills
Socially rejected, shy, and often lonely as a child
Prone to episodes of explosive anger
Poor social skills (incapable of joining in with a group on his own)
Highly talkative—dominates conversations
Highly intelligent, excelled at academics, (especially math and science), but dropped out of Harvard anyway (never liked school)
Poor eye contact
Unusually high-pitched, monotone voice
Often unconscious of his personal appearance
“Flat”, inexpressive face except when smiling
Makes extreme rocking movements when thinking or stressed (and has since childhood)
Given to exaggeration and (occasionally) outright lies/dishonesty
Highly ambitious—determined to be rich and famous
Intensely interested in computers and technology

Guess the Success #12:
Self-stimulated (“stimmed”)/comforted himself by holding on to peoples’ earlobes
Emotionally distant from all but a very few intimate friends/family members
“Perma-grin” (otherwise fairly flat expressions unless focusing on them)
Rocked or swayed repetitively
Black-and-white thinker
Polite to a fault
Unashamedly outspoken
Deeply religious, strong traditional values (but often hypocritical)
Distant as a father—children never really felt connection—but very loving husband
Highly organized
Immaculate hygiene and grooming
Intensely interested in radio personalities, movie stars, sports, and television
Intensely interested in western paraphernalia, horses, and horseback riding
Intensely interested in astrology, UFO’s, Armageddon, and the occult (highly superstitious)
Intensely interested in politics and personally held very rigid political views
Given to sharing exaggerated stories and statistics
Loved to perform for others (Intensely interested in performance)
Extremely easy to approach in performance settings, but distant and “mysterious” in person
Socially exceptional with groups, but lost in one-on-one situations

Guess the Success #10:
Precocious child—early reader
Intensely interested in languages and linguistics (taught himself Greek and Latin as a child and eventually mastered over 20 languages)
Intensely interested in calligraphy, art, and MAPS
Extremely oriented to rules, routines, and details
Disliked change
Irrationally opposed to technology, modernization, and all things French
Shy and quiet
Noted for his “indistinct” speech
Extremely easy to approach by letter, but distant and “mysterious” in person
Very messy and unorganized
Gave confusing and boring lectures in his role as a university professor
Deeply religious throughout his life (Catholic), unique personal theology too
Extremely loving husband and father (though unconventional)
From childhood, invented fantasy languages and worlds in order to escape reality (and to enable himself to deal with it). Often lived in his imagination.
Guess the Success #8:
Unconcerned with her personal appearance
“Flat”, inexpressive face when not smiling
Uninterested in the opposite sex, dating, marriage, or family
Neglected personal needs in favor of focused activity
Quiet and shy
Frequently experienced deep depression
Given to sharing exaggerated stories and statistics
Outward mask did not match inner experience and emotions (seemed serenely calm and happy, but actually was deeply troubled)
Inflexible—extremely rules oriented
Black-and-white thinker
Near-fanatical religious beliefs—while simultaneously fighting with doubts
Honest to a fault—outspoken
Emotionally detached—kept others at arms length even though she cared deeply for them
Intensely interested in missionary work, missions, hymns, and religion from childhood

Guess the Success #7:
Very shy and hated most social situations
Extremely easy to approach in performance settings, but distant and “mysterious” in person; rarely could bring himself to make “small talk” in his private life
Great difficulty maintaining lasting social relationships
“Perma-grin” (otherwise flat expression)
Outward cheerfulness did not match inner emotional state
Intensely interested in magic tricks (often wore a cape as a child)
Intensely interested in science and astronomy—earned a degree in physics
Intensely interested in archery
Intensely interested in radios and radio personalities
Loved to perform for others (Intensely interested in performance), he was willing to do almost anything to entertain others
Polite to a fault
Uncomfortable making eye-contact in non-performance settings
Distant as a father (even to the point of seeming uncaring)
Extremely routine oriented and organized
Highly ambitious—determined to be rich and famous

Guess the Success #6:
Hated school and did poorly (despite skipping 2 grades for his near-genius intelligence)
Terribly shy—disliked most social interactions
Socially rejected, often lonely and friendless (bullied)
Lived in his imagination whenever possible
Deeply religious (Christian changing to agnostic secular humanist)
Honest to a fault
Emotionally distant even with friends and family
Often frustrated and angry behind his calm façade
Experienced frequent anxiety and depression
Distant and indulgent as a father (but loving)
Highly organized and strongly oriented to routines
Extremely easy to approach, yet still distant and “mysterious”
Intensely interested in comic books, comic strips, and drawing
Intensely interested in baseball, hockey, and other sports
Highly ambitious—determined to be rich and famous

Guess the Success #4:
Withdrawn and quiet child, she had an aversion to speaking with anyone outside her immediate family and doctors diagnosed her with “borderline autism”
Hated her childhood– mainly because of being bullied by the other kids at school
Intensely interested in movies (memorized tons of trivial facts)
Identified with movie stars instead of peers
Lived in a “self-created fantasy world” as a child
Agoraphobic (afraid of open spaces)
Irregular sleep patterns/insomnia
Lacked many “normal” inhibitions
Highly rules-oriented (but her own—not society’s)
Black-and-white thinker
Under/over conscious of her personal appearance
Aversion to showering
“Flat”, inexpressive face when not focusing on expression
Experienced frequent anxiety and depression
Honest to a fault—outspoken
Intensely interested in the environment (and saving it), she takes to the extremes—driving a car fueled with recycled grease, keeping vegan, and using solar power
Strongly committed to her causes: environmentalism and abused women/children

Guess the Success #3:
Physically awkward—misshapen head
Did not speak until age 2, did not speak fluently until age 7
Repeated sentences obsessively
Utterly unconscious of his personal appearance
Vast store of memorized facts, but difficulty remembering dates or phone numbers
“Flat”, inexpressive face unless smiling
Experienced frequent anxiety and depression
Socially rejected as a child, often shy and lonely
Although extremely intelligent, hated school and was disliked by teachers
Obsessively built playing-card houses
Exhibited confusing speech patterns
Given to emotional meltdowns/explosive tempers
Extremely rules oriented
Deeply religious (but a notorious philanderer)
Extremely easy to approach, yet still distant and “mysterious” even to friends
Very messy and unorganized
Intensely interested in science and mathematics
Guess the Success #2:
Physically awkward (“indescribably gawky”)
Unusually high-pitched, shrill voice
Absolutely unconscious of his personal appearance—hair constantly unkempt
“Flat”, inexpressive face
Made flapping/bobbing/rocking movements when aroused
Given to sharing exaggerated stories
Neglected personal needs in favor of focused activity (especially reading)
Experienced frequent anxiety and depression (had 5 nervous breakdowns and wrote a suicide note)
Honest to a fault—outspoken
Often shy, lonely, and rejected (marriage proposal turned down)
Deeply religious (but would tell off-color stories)
Loved to perform for others
Extremely easy to approach, but emotionally distant and “mysterious” even to his friends (though very close with his family)
Strongly oriented to rules and routines
Very messy and unorganized
“Black-and-White” thinker
Guess the Success #1:
Abandon our preconceived notions
Acknowledge that AS/HFA is not a “death sentence,” but that it is a lifelong condition, and largely a culturally dictated one
Stop the panic mongering! Stop the stigmatization!
Focus on strengths, mask and accommodate weaknesses, and create systems to cope with the challenges/issues (especially anxiety & social)
Prudently use medication, probiotics, special diets, therapy, and other interventions
If you want to be independent, learn independence systems!
If you want to be employed, learn employment systems!
If you want to be "normal", learn normalization systems!
Find your own path, and embrace your unique story!
Conclusions: So What?
Unable to relate to children her own age (all her “friends” were adults)
Socially rejected, shy, and often lonely
Physically awkward—felt uncomfortable in her own body
Great difficultly/reluctance in expressing emotions and feelings as a child
Experienced frequent anxiety and depression (“I cried all the time”)
Bullied and mocked by other children
“Flat”, inexpressive face except when focusing on expression
Extremely intelligent, excellent memorization skills
Often lived in her own mind/reality
Great difficulty with interpersonal communication, but close with family
Dressed as an elf and lived in a tree for a time as a young adult
Intensely interested in television, theatre, and movies
Intensely interested in languages and literature
Intensely interested in science fiction (“I don’t see it as fiction at all…”)
Strong proponent of environmental causes (idealistic)
Loves to perform for others (Intensely interested in performance)
Capable of far greater verbal and non-verbal skills when performing
Self-diagnosed with autism after playing an autistic character in a film

Guess the Success #11:
Did not speak until age 4
Suspected of being “mentally retarded” by his doctors
Significant learning disabilities—termed “hopeless” and “disruptive” by teachers
Had to be taken out of class at age 7 and home-schooled
Unconscious of his personal appearance
Irregular sleep patterns
Difficulty maintaining steady employment—often fired
Emotionally detached
Told exaggerated stories—often altered the truth to fit his needs
Experienced frequent anxiety and depression
Loved to perform for others
Distant and indulgent as a father
Extremely easy to approach, but distant and “mysterious” even to his friends
Neglected personal needs in favor of focused activity
Intensely interested in science experiments
Unaware/uncaring of the effects of his experiments/actions on others
Perfectionistic and extremely routine oriented
Highly ambitious—determined to be rich and famous

Guess the Success #5:
New DSM-5 criteria:

Currently, or by history, must meet criteria A, B, C, and D:
A. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts, not accounted for by general developmental delays, and manifest by all 3 of the following:
1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity
2. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction
3. Deficits in developing and maintaining relationships
B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities as manifested by at least two of the following:
1. Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements, or use of objects
2. Excessive adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior, or excessive resistance to change
3. Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus
4. Hyper-or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of environment;
C. Symptoms must be present in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities)
D. Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning.
A brief review:
Diagnostic Criteria
Amanda Baggs
I am not an empty shell. Nobody is.
The lights are on. Yes I am home. You are just not looking through the right windows.
Keep trying.
Nobody kidnapped me. I am right here. As are all of us.
As we are now, all of us are people and always will be people.
You will call us Kanner's and Asperger's.
You will call us high-functioning and low-functioning.
You will call us regressive and early infantile.
You will call us genetic and poisoned.
You will call us retarded and genius.
You will call us an epidemic.
According to your rules, not the rules of reality.
Throughout, we will remain at the deepest level people.
We will throughout remain who we are meant to be.
We speak with as many kinds of voices as there are autistic people.
We speak with our mouths. With our fingers. With our behavior. With our being.
In ways that may conflict or you may find hard to understand.
But our voices form a chorus, dissonant and harmonious alike.
That is more the voice of autism than anyone else will ever be.
We're here whether you see us or not.
We're real people whether you see us or not.
Our existence, our worth, and our personhood are not dependent on you.
They're not dependent on being rescued.
They're not dependent on being brought back from somewhere we never went in the first place.
They're not dependent on you putting us on your false pedestal as holy fools or inspirations.
They're not dependent on you pretending we're exactly like you in a misplaced effort to make us comfortable.
Our place in the world is not always where you or we intend it to be.
Our place in the world does not always make sense.
Our place in the world exists as we are now.
I am not a puzzle—I am a PERSON.
Don't ever forget that many of us are saying this to you with actions.
Every moment of the day.
Just as loud as we would if we had the words I have now.
Some closing words of power
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Eccentric Gazillionaires):
Steve Jobs, Howard Hughs, H. Ross Perot, John D. MacArthur
Answer: Bill Gates
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Actors/Hollywood):
Nicholas Cage, Megan Fox, Johnny Depp, George Lucas, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Keanu Reeves, Courtney Cox, Quentin Tarantino, Angelina Jolie, ETC!!!
Answer: Sigourney Weaver
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Politicians and Pundits):
Al Gore, J. Edgar Hoover, Mark Levine, Al Franken, Bill Maher, Rush Limbaugh
Answer: Ronald Reagan
Regarded by many as the greatest Rock N’ Roll icon of ALL TIME!
Under/over conscious of his personal appearance
Lived in his own mind—created for himself first—appeared narcissistic to some
Incurably messy and disorganized
Low regard for others opinions
Frustrated and angry most of the time underneath his playful façade
Intensely interested in appearing strong/ avoiding the appearance of weakness
Prone to addictions and dangerous behavior
Extremely loving father (though unconventional)
Loved to perform for others (Intensely interested in performance), but also craved solitude
Intensely interested in art; particular human imperfections and deformity, words, sounds; the number 9; rock-and-roll music, musical instruments, and Elvis Presley
Highly ambitious—determined to be rich and famous—Intensely interested in notoriety
Strongly held, deeply personal beliefs (that he often violated or contradicted anyway)
“Flat”, inexpressive face when not focusing on his expressions or smiling
Genius level IQ, loved to read, but no interest in academics (Learning disabilities-- dyslexia, etc)
Hated school: labeled disruptive, stupid, and anti-social by teachers and administrators
Talked excessively, inappropriately, and often out of turn—dominated conversations
Extremely easy to approach, yet always distant and “mysterious”
Often exhibited inappropriate emotional responses (joked/laughed at trauma or death)
Extremely outspoken and often uncaring of the effect of his words on others
Often uncaring and condescending in his treatment of others—even cruel (bully)
Unusual voice, monotone or shrilly pitched
Perfect pitch
Irregular sleep patterns
Poor vision and poor visual processing
Lacked many “normal” inhibitions
Unable or unwilling to follow/respect social and cultural conventions
Black-and-white thinker
Given to telling exaggerated stories
Guess the Success #9:
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Religious Icons):
Mohandas Gandhi, Saint Francis of Assisi, L. Ron Hubbard, Brigham Young
Answer: Mother Teresa
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Comedians):
Andy Kaufman, George Carlin, Michael Richards, Jim Carrey, Dennis Miller, Dan Aykroyd, Woody Allen, Sasha Baron-Cohen, Stephen Colbert
Answer: Johnny Carson
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Inventors and Innovators):
George Washington Carver, Nikolai Tesla, Henry Ford, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Satoshi Tajiri, and MANY of today’s big computer and technology names
Answer: Thomas Edison
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Artists and Cartoonists):
Andy Warhol, Bill Watterson, Ansel Adams, Gary Larsen, Ted Geisel
Answer: Charles Shultz
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Scientists and Philosophers):
Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Carl Jung,
Margret Meade, Isaac Asimov, William James Sidis
Answer: Albert Einstein
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (US Presidents):
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and many others!
Answer: Abraham Lincoln
High school graduate!
Worked as a bank teller!
Lives on his own!
Golfs, drives, and travels the world—all independently!
(First developed these skills at the respective ages of 23, 27, and 36)
Still has a fairly rigid routine (but it is HIS and it involves people and positive goals like exercise, recreation, and scrapbooking)
Had Community Support (“Acceptance”) “He attended a country school where his peculiarities were accepted and where he made good scholastic progress.”
Had neighbors and friends who would “not only shrug off his oddities, but openly admire his strengths”
Had early childhood “interventions” (farming, mainly)
Had suitable goals tied to his areas of preoccupation
The Atlantic, October 2010
Donald Triplett — “Case 1”
The Atlantic, October 2010
Diagnosed in 1938 at the age of 5 by Dr. Kanner
The FIRST diagnosed case of autism
Fixated on spinning objects, spinning himself, and rolling nonsense words around in his mouth
Rarely listened to/obeyed his parents
Awkward movements/motor coordination
No apparent interest in other people or socializing
Poor eye contact
Assigned everyone numbers in place of names
Strong memory for numbers and mathematics
Institutionalized at age 3 as “hopelessly insane”
Donald Triplett — “Case 1”
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Authors):
Beatrix Potter, Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Steven King, P. L. Travers, Lewis Carroll, Ayn Rand, Orson Scott Card, Robert E. Howard, Jane Austin (and MANY more)
Answer: J.R.R. Tolkien
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals
(Famous Female Activists):
Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, Florence Nightingale, Ingrid Newkirk
Answer: Daryl Hannah
Other Possible Autism-Spectrum Individuals (Musicians and Poets):
Bob Dylan, George Harrison, James Taylor , Emily Dickinson, “Weird” Al Yankovic, Mozart, Beethoven, Madonna, Lady Gaga, John Denver, Karen Carpenter, ETC!!!
Answer: John Lennon
LD Effects
What Is Known About Learning Disabilities?
Take Advantage of Multiple Intelligences!

Patrick Dempsey:
“I think dyslexia made me who I am today.”
Vince Vaughn

“I’m grateful for my dyslexia because, although I was not a very good student in school, I learned perseverance through overcoming my learning disability.”
“When I was a kid they didn't call it dyslexia. They called it... you know, you were slow, or you were retarded, or whatever. And so, I learned from a guy who was running a program who I met one day and he had written out on a board a sentence. And I said to him, 'You know, I can't read that.' And he said, 'Why not?' And I said, 'Because it doesn't make any sense to me.' So he said, 'Well, write down what you see under each. Whatever you see, write exactly what you see underneath.' And so, he brought me to letters by coordinating what I saw to something called an A, or a B, or a C, or a D, and that was pretty cool... As a kid I learned to tell jokes to get through difficult situations in school. Rely on your strengths and you’ll get through too.”
Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly: actors.

“I discovered I loved Shakespeare, and his style forced me to slow down and really work to understand the writing on the page. I was 18, and yet it was my first real experience with reading—really wanting to read… [still] I had to work three times as hard to get two-thirds of the way.” ~Orlando Bloom
LD is a broad term. There are many different kinds of learning disabilities. Most often they fall into three broad categories:

Reading disabilities (dyslexia)
Written language disabilities (dysgraphia)
Math disabilities (dyscalculia)

Other related categories include disabilities that affect sensory processing, memory, social skills, and executive functions such as beginning a task.
What are the Types of Learning Disabilities?
Neural Misfires in the Learning Process
Some individuals, despite having an average or above average level of intelligence, have real difficulty acquiring basic academic skills. These difficulties might be the result of a learning disability.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law, defines a learning disability as "a condition when a person's achievement is substantially below what one might expect for that person, given their overall ability."
Learning disabilities do not include problems that are primarily the result of sensory, emotional, or intellectual disabilities.
What are Learning Disabilities?
Intro to L.D.
(Learning Disabilities)
Tony Bennett
Mary Tyler Moore
Henry Winkler
Danny Glover
Billy Blanks
John F. Kennedy
Roughly 5-20% of the population of Earth!
Tom Cruise: Oscar-nominated actor.  
“In Kindergarten I couldn’t tell whether letters like c or d curved to the right or to the left. Instead of academics, I got involved in sports and school plays to make friends.”
Tommy Hilfiger: fashion designer.  
"I performed poorly at school, when I attended, that is, and was perceived as stupid because of my dyslexia. I still have trouble reading. I have to concentrate very hard at going left to right, left to right, otherwise my eye just wanders to the bottom of the page." – Tommy Hilfiger  In reference to his being the class clown: "I didn’t want anyone to know that I didn’t get it."
General George Patton
"Young George . . . although he was bright and intelligent and bursting with energy, he was unable to read and write. Patton's wife corrected his spelling, his punctuation, and his grammar."
- Biographer Martin Blumenson
"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."
Sylvester Stallone: Actor, Screenwriter, and Director

“I was told by my teachers that my brain was dormant, and I took it to heart. I channeled a tremendous amount of energy to my body. I had to go to a special school for kids with learning and behavior problems… but I learned to never give up.”

Hope for Learning Disabilities--
Bruce Jenner: Olympic Gold Medalist

"I just barely got through school. The problem was a learning disability, at a time when there was nowhere to get help…If I had not been dyslexic, I would not have won the Olympic decathlon games. Dyslexia made me outwork the next guy. But it was a side effect of dyslexia, my self-esteem-my perception of myself, which was my biggest problem of all; bigger than the perceptual problems of dyslexia itself, and if I had not been dyslexic, I wouldn't have needed sports."

"I firmly believe that deep in their soul everyone has a champion that can overcome obstacles and do great things.”
Winston Churchill
Alexander Graham Bell
Ted Turner
Richard Branson
Harrison Ford
Jay Leno
George Bush
Keanu Reeves
Roughly 5% of all people
Surprisingly controversial

Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

“Once we have labeled the things around us, we do not bother to look at them so carefully.”
~ Dr. Jane Goodall
“Once we label people we proceed to sort only for behavior that verifies our label (evidence that proves we were right), and at that point we are no longer interacting and responding to the person. Once you label me you negate me.”
~Soren Kierkegaard

Life Is Not A Label :
Quotes and Poems

Do Not Search For Allison In These Words,
You Will Not Find Her Here:
My skin is kind of sort of brownish
Pinkish yellowish white.
My eyes are greyish blueish green,
But I'm told they look orange in the night.
My hair is reddish blondish brown,
But it's silver when it's wet.
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.


Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS,
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen child,
ANYTHING can be.


I asked the Zebra,
are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went--
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes again.

Zebra Stripes

“The Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
~1 Samuel 16:7, Holy Bible, KJV

Choosing King David…

My Diagnostic Labels
Whoopi Goldberg: comedian, actress, and TV personality.
Jennifer Anniston
Significant difference between ability and performance. Apx. 1/10 people. Generally divided into reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia), and math (dyscalculia) disabilities.
*10. What do I choose to have this label mean to me?
What is the most positive, empowering, and self-affirming meaning that I can give to this label? How can I use this label to help myself achieve my fullest potential and achieve my dreams and Vision for success?
(This is the most important question. Give it some serious thought!)
11. What will I choose to “do” about my label, (if anything)?
How will taking that action help me in my life now and in the future? What will I gain from acting?
12. Complete this sentence: I am glad that God has allowed me to face______________

What My Labels Mean to Me Questionnaire

7. What part of the definition of this label, if any, do I think accurately describes me?
(What descriptions and symptoms do I agree with?) Why?
8. What part of the definition of this label, if any, doesn’t really seem to describe me?
(What descriptions and symptoms do I disagree with?) Why?
9. What does this label miss (leave out) about me and my “condition”?
What My Labels Mean to Me Questionnaire

4. What does this label officially mean?
(Copy down the technical definition. You may need to look this up online or at a library, or borrow a copy of the DSM V).
5. What are the weaknesses associated with this label?
What makes this label get described as a “disability”? What’s challenging about being this way? Be honest.
6. What are the strengths associated with this label?
What can people described this way often do well? What’s great about being this way? Be honest and be creative!

What My Labels Mean to Me Questionnaire

Label: ______________________________

Are there any other names for this label?  

2. How and when did I get this label, and from whom?  

3. How did I feel about getting this label at the time, and Why did I feel that way?

What My Labels Mean to Me Questionnaire

Make a list of the “labels” you have received from “experts” in your life.
Pick THREE labels that you feel are the most significant (positive, negative, or in between), and write them down here.

If you do not have 3 expert diagnoses, pick the 3 most influential labels you’ve received in your life, regardless of who gave them to you.

Pick Your 3 Labels
LINAL Final project

What My Labels Mean to Me
Answer these questions for each of your 3 "labels"...
"What My Labels Mean to Me"
Class Reminders:
Final Projects Due Today! (or Wednesday)
Thursday = Final Day of Class! :(
Thank you for all your great work!!!

So, what to do? Think long and hard before you decide.
Consider the information and tips we've covered and add to it other consequences you can think of, because you know how people react to you and how you want to handle their reactions so that things work out best for you.
You decide.
Take care of yourself and do what feels right in your heart as well as your head!
The hallmark of a successful disclosure is a positive transformation in the relationship with another person and subsequently, in society as a whole. More successful disclosures will enable the public to construct positive ways of relating to people with your “labels”. This, in turn, will aid in eliminating the stigma that still surrounds people with disabilities.

Interesting Anecdote:

Additional Tips for Disclosure:

Conclusions—To Disclose or Not

Possible negative consequences:
The boss will notice and think you are lying or trying to "put one over" and then assume that you
a) can't function well enough to do the job and, hence, the lie;
b) you are not well-adjusted to your disability and may be difficult to work with;
c) think the boss is too stupid to notice;
d) fill-in-the-blank...bad vibes.
Your protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may be jeopardized—the employer is not required to make any accommodations for a disability he or she is unaware an employee has.
The boss and/or your co-workers will notice that you have trouble with some areas and make incorrect assumptions about your differences.
The boss and/or your co-workers will discover that you have a disability and assume
a) it must be a big problem and that's why you didn't discuss it,
b) it must be shameful,
c) it must be part of deeper-seated problems—maybe you are psychotic or sociopathic and they should be concerned about their safety around you,
d) it must bother you so much that you won't talk about it.
I have a pretty good “mask”. If no one can tell I have a disability, can't I get away with not revealing it and have a better chance of getting and keeping the job?
Possible positive consequences:
Maybe the boss won't notice and will hire you, assuming you have no disability.
Maybe your co-workers won't notice once you're on the job and you won't get caught in an omission of the truth. Can you live with that? Can you maintain the appearance of “normal”?
(What will happen if you are found out? )
I have a pretty good “mask”. If no one can tell I have a disability, can't I get away with not revealing it and have a better chance of getting and keeping the job?
Possible negative consequences:
Some employers definitely do mind being surprised and will wonder what else you've failed to mention or share with them.
Some employers may feel as if you have "sprung" this on them as a warm-up for a lawsuit, if you're not hired.
Some employers may be so distracted by your disability that they don't pay attention to who you are and what you have to offer.
You could end up making another person feel very uncomfortable and out-of-sorts with you.
If I wait until I get to the interview to reveal my disability, will I still get the job?

Possible positive consequences:
Some employers don't mind the surprise and you can allay their concerns, if they have any, in person.
The evidence on your paperwork (application and resume, if you have one) has proven you are qualified and should be interviewed. Now you can demonstrate your competence in person.
There are no preconceived notions of who you are—old, deaf-dumb-blind, other.
If I wait until I get to the interview to reveal my disability, will I still get the job?
Possible negative consequences:
The employer will be intimidated and find an excuse to not interview you—any excuse will do.
The employer will be afraid that you might sue under ADA and will interview you, but plan not to hire you—any excuse will do.
The employer worries about possible difficulties with other staff and/or the price of accommodations and will not interview you
The employer has mistaken ideas about your “label” and will not hire you due to concerns about your ability to produce results and actually do the job.
The employer has had a bad experience with another person with a similar “label” and assumes that you are the same—no interview.
If I tell someone about my disability in advance—whether on the telephone or in a cover letter—will they still consider me for the job or simply make a polite excuse for not interviewing me?
Possible positive consequences:
The employer will think you are comfortable with who you are and well-adjusted to your disability.
The employer will consider you assertive.
The employer believes that a disabled person can do the job and is not off-put by your revelation.
The employer knows competent disabled adults and looks forward to meeting you.
If I tell someone about my disability in advance—whether on the telephone or in a cover letter—will they still consider me for the job or simply make a polite excuse for not interviewing me?
To disclose or not to disclose?

This is a question every person with a disability eventually asks.
Should I tell someone (in a relationship, in advance of an interview, in a school or work setting) that I have a disability?

There is no easy answer. There is no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal preference. In other words, only you can decide!

However, to help you make an informed decision, the following tips and possible consequences are provided as "food for thought."
(And If to Disclose, Your Disability)

Deciding When To Disclose

Considered by a majority of historians to be the greatest American to ever live!
Considered the greatest mind of the twentieth century and the most famous scientist of all time!
Winner of multiple awards for her acting and filmmaking as well as her activism, and named one of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History”!
Has an airport named after him, a Congressional Gold Medal, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
2013--Daryl Hannah
"Comes Out"! :)
Started over 100 companies and received over 1000 patents for his world-changing inventions!
Winner of four Emmys and countless other awards, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most successful entertainers in American history!
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work as a humanitarian!
Author of the book voted “Book of the Millennium” in the US, UK, and Australia, his works continue to sell millions of copies each year!
Winner of the most electoral votes of any President in the history of the United States!
One of only 11 actors in history to ever be nominated for 2 Oscars in the same year!
One of the three richest human beings on the planet!


David Neeleman

Terry Bradshaw

Robin Williams

Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan

Justin Timberlake

Bill Cosby

Symptoms of Inattention
1. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
2. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
5. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
7. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities
8. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
9. Is often forgetful in daily activities
Symptoms of Hyperactivity
1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
2. Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
3. Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
4. Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
5. Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
6. Often talks excessively
Symptoms of Impulsivity
1. Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
2. Often has difficulty awaiting turn
3. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
“AD/HD is a lifespan condition that affects children, adolescents, and adults of all ages.”

What is ADHD?

Planned distractions (gum, doodling, fidgets, etc)
Relaxation Techniques (breathing, focus, etc)
Organization Aids (graphic organizers, etc)
Direct systems training for memory, procrastination, behaviors, prioritization, and other problem solving

ADHD Help:

Nearly 10%
of Major League Baseball Players!!!

Glenn Beck

Walt Disney

Jim Carrey

Larry H. Miller

Will Smith

Michelle Rodriguez

Paul Orfalea

ADHD Strengths

Sense of Humor
Musical ability
Artistic ability
Incentive driven

Great imagination
Creative (ie. Stress relief)
Leadership Abilities
Risk taker
Hyperactivity (Productive)
Impulsivity (closure/deadlines)
Exciting Presenters

Inability to pay attention
Not listening to Teacher
Distracted by external stimuli
Hyperactive (cannot sit still)
Wanting to leave the room
Act impulsive, interrupt, talk a lot
Attendance poor or not at all
Poor follow-through
Poor organization
Often loses things
Frustrated (and frustrating)

ADHD in the S.V. Classroom

"The only reason I knew [that I had dyslexia] was because I went to get a prescription for glasses... they put a computer on my eyes, showing where my eyes went when I read. My eyes would jump four words and go back two words... My learning disability had hurt me a lot. I thought I wasn't smart. I just couldn't retain anything, but now I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained."
"I want to write and direct, but it's not easy with ADD. I have a hard time focusing...
I'm a bit of a scatterbrain, but I'm also very energetic, passionate, creative, and social.”
“I have OCD mixed with ADD, you try living with that! [But] I think for a performer, because that’s really what we all are, I think that anytime the nervousness comes in, the focus jumps in as well and it overbears it in a
way. It supersedes it. I think you just become uber-focused…
And that’s a strength.”
“I think everybody should have dyslexia and ADHD! Getting bored easily is a great motivator—I’m always looking ahead to new goals. Work with your strengths, not your weaknesses. If you’re not good at reading, focus on something else! Go where you are strong, and don’t take life so seriously—enjoy it!”
Eriksen and Kress (2005)
Diagnoses do not (and can not) capture the uniqueness of a person!
In spite of all these potential drawbacks and disadvantages, we still use diagnostic labels because without them it would be almost impossible to effectively talk about or treat disabilities.
1. How is the Label officially defined?
(DSM definition)
2. What are the challenges and strengths?
3. What can be done?
(treatment options, tips techniques, etc)
4. Who are some of the most successful people who have "transformed" this label?
"Label" Objectives:
Tips for Disclosing Your Disability
Whether it is a close friend or a potential date, a school teacher or a supervisor at work, it is not easy to know how much to say or when to say it. When you do decide to disclose, however, here are some tips:
1. Know what you want to say and what your desired outcome is

• It is hard to explain to others something that you do not understand yourself. It is up to you to educate yourself so that you can educate others. Know your “label” and what it means!

• Know what you hope to accomplish through this disclosure—what outcome are your aiming for?

• Know your strengths. We all have talents and abilities. Know what yours are and feel good about them.

• Know your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses we must work around. Be realistic and know your limitations and challenges.

• Know what accommodations help you to do your best. Others can better accommodate you when you know exactly what to ask for.

• Know what situations to stay away from. There are some situations that no accommodations overcome. Know what they are for you.
2. Be specific and deliberate
• Only tell what is necessary to only those who need to hear it. Be discreet and selective about disclosing; many people are not ready to hear what you have to say.
• Say what you need to succeed, not why you can’t do it. Everybody loves a winner. Nobody loves a whiner.
• Talk about a specific task or activity. People can learn better if you relate it to something they already know and understand.
• Know the Problem, the Cause, and the Solution. Give the complete picture and have the answer on how you can succeed.
• It is sometimes helpful to present the information in both spoken words and in written form. Also, having handouts, articles, or books about the disability and/or needed accommodations can give credibility to what you are saying.
• Determine your own personal privacy boundaries concerning the amount/ type of information you want to share with others.
• Pick a time when you are not rushed and can thoughtfully explain your needs to others.
• Remember to keep the disclosure conversation focused on your abilities and be self-determined and practical. It is also a good idea to practice talking about your disability with someone you trust.
The greatest understanding and cooperation comes from working together with others to find a common solution. Once you choose to disclose, let them help you find a way to work around your weaknesses.
Fake it,
Make it,
or Disclose at some level!
Tips and Considerations for Disclosing in School Settings:

After high school, accommodations are usually provided by the program's disability support service only if you disclose your disability and request accommodations. Some reasons for disclosing your disability in a postsecondary setting include:
• obtaining information about available supports and services;

• discussing academic requirements and practical components of your course of study; and

• ensuring that faculty members implement the reasonable accommodations you require in order for you to be successful in your courses.
“Labeling is a process of creating descriptors to identify persons who differ from the norm. But ‘normal’ is a broad relative term.
Everyone is different in some way from someone else
… In my experience,
the scariest thing about these labels is the way we create them and then run around pretending they are not humanly created
…We also pretend that everyone using a label… means the same thing…” ~Scott Danforth

“It is important to remember that
any label is a tool and must lead to something if it is going to be helpful.
Using a label tells us very little about an individual except the fact that there is a disability. It is often wiser to get to know each person as an individual with strengths, interests, preferences, fears, and frustrations and realize that
“autism” [or any other label] is only one aspect of each individual
. If we can get away from the stigma of labels, perhaps we can begin to see a way to assume ability and competence and allow each individual to live
to expectations rather than allowing the label to dictate potentially lower expectations.” ~Kim Davis
Full transcript