My Late-Diagnosed Learning Disability May Have Been A Blessing
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My Late-Diagnosed Learning Disability May Have Been A Blessing

You are only as good as the standards you hold yourself to.

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My Late-Diagnosed Learning Disability May Have Been A Blessing
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I am thankful that I was not diagnosed with my my learning disability until my Junior year in high school.

To some, the above statement might seem foolish. Why would I not want to have been diagnosed with my learning disabilities earlier? For example, getting diagnosed in elementary school, so I could then get the right help in order to combat my learning differences all through my schooling rather than just at the very end.

Through both my own experiences and literature I have read, not getting diagnosed until later was possibly more beneficial for me.

School at times was pretty tough for me. Specifically, reading and writing were things I really struggled with all through grade school. Up until I was diagnosed with dyslexia and poor executive functioning ability, I was unaware that I was having a tough time in school because of these reasons.

When I was faced with hardship I had myself to blame because I assumed I was as able as my peers, and in many respects I was. In some areas outside of reading and writing, I was actually much stronger, like math. Not knowing I had Dyslexia and poor executive functioning actually forced me to solve and adapt to these deficiencies by my own accord rather than someone else’s. Rather than get extra help in order to keep up, I had to work a little harder and figure out ways to adapt to the roadblocks in my own way.

A study done in 2013 (Pasta, Mendola, Longobardi, Prino, Gastaldi) compares children with “Specific Learning Disabilities” (SLD), to those without of both similar and opposite academic achievement, and then looks to see how those groups attribute both their academic successes and failures. The main findings showed that children with SLD attributed outcomes to effort far less than those without SLD, attributed outcomes to easiness far more than those without SLD, and attributed outcomes to luck significantly more than those without SLD.

The attributions in which children with SLD favored, easiness and luck, are both external forces, those which you cannot control yourself. The one they endorsed less, effort, was the only attributional process that focuses on oneself and can be manipulated by the individual. This shows a pattern, where those with SLD tend to think that outcomes happen because of forces outside their control, whereas those without SLD tend to think outcomes happen because of their own effort and, to a lesser extent, their ability.

At first, when I was diagnosed, I sort of used it as justification for all my previous hardships regarding school. It made me feel a lot better about all the tough times, because it wasn’t my fault, it was this thing's fault. The more time I spent getting the extra help, however, the more I realized I was better off without it. Maybe I was doing great according to the new standards set for me, which accounted for my learning disability, but I wasn’t doing better according to my old standards, without the label.

If I had been diagnosed earlier then I too may have went through school thinking outcomes were due to powers outside my control. Rather than trying harder as I did when faced with obstacles, I may have used my learning disability as a crutch. My standards may have been much lower, leaving potential on the table that may have been unlocked otherwise.

The underlying reason why this mindset can be dangerous, is in any situation, when you don’t think you can change the outcome through your own actions, there is little reason to make any attempt to do just that. When met by a setback, it is much more likely you make no attempt next time when faced with the same problem to make it a problem no more. Rather, it just is what it is, and that is life.

Now, of course, there are cases where setbacks are met due to luck, or how hard something is, but literature shows that if you have a preconceived disadvantage, you are to attribute outcomes far more often to factors you cannot control. It is a sad and unfortunate equation that results in less progress than could be achieved if that individual looked inward at their own actions to change future outcomes.

No, I’m not saying if you have kids you should not get them tested for learning disabilities if you suspect they have them. What I am saying is that we need to pay attention to how we attribute outcomes, especially when we know there is something outside our control factoring in, and that we do not solely attribute outcomes to this factor.

It is not easy, but the next time you find yourself blaming something outside your control, I challenge you to try and find a way you may have had more influence over the outcome. Because while the gratification of alleviating the burden of guilt in the moment feels good, if you do happen to figure out how you could have changed an outcome, and then the next time you do, that gratification is unmatched.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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