On the image here you can see the 80% line for where the cognitive abilities of the average college student are and then all of my dots are way below that.
Since I was a kid, I knew that I learned completely different than the ‘average’ student. I thought this was the challenge of being an out-of-the-box thinker not because of a disability. I still do.
After getting this report I was still curious about learning disabilities and so in 2011 I joined an adult topics committee with the National Learning Disabilities Association.
The answers lay less in the designs and initiative of the individual learner but in what the professional decided was good for the learner.
During this time I had a lot of conversations with my partner, A, who was identified as ADHD in his early teens. ADHD, while not technically considered a learning disability, is usually lumped together with other types of learning challenges.
In ADHD there is a focus on building a person’s ‘executive function’.
Executive function is defined as: an umbrella term for cognitive processes that regulate, control, and manage other cognitive processes, such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, task switching, and initiation and monitoring of actions.
A said something really interesting about executive function. He said that how come executives are able to focus on their strengths while on the job and then have secretaries to handle their busy schedules, type correspondence for them and basically organize their lives?
He asked is executive function just basically how executive’s function?
I began thinking about James Bond with his jet pack–certainly James Bond can’t fly and doesn’t need the accommodation of his jet pack. He just is using something that augments his already powerful persona.
Thinking about my own very cool dad, he used a dictaphone for much of his communication throughout his career. He would speak in his ideas, correspondence or drafts for his articles for medical journals and his secretary would type it up for him.
Why is it that he was able to be seen as a powerful professional handling his business and living an organized life (along with the help of his secretary and my mom) whereas people with learning disabilities can sometimes appear weak needing accommodations and services?