Journeyman's Row
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***  October 11, 2016  -  June 30, 2021  ***

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Life, with a learning disability

Posted on January 10, 2017 at 1:00 AM

Am I speaking for every single individual, whose experiences with ADD/ADHD are somewhat different depending on their life circumstances? No, because as with any health condition some people I've known have less difficulty than others have had. It could have also been because some of those people aren't willing or feel unable to speak out for help that they do need. So they live and believe making due as the status quo is their only option. Not everyone with this disorder can prosper, but some thankfully do.

This unwittingly creates another disparity. Judging by association, based on a very small proportion of people with the same health condition, will cause misjudgment and negatively affect people who are having a harder time. This makes life with a learning disability still a challenge in the world at large the same as it can for mental health conditions. Should we be provided reasonable accommodations? Absolutely, as should anyone with a documented health condition if it duly impedes their performance. If someone is judging ADD/ADHD based on their experience with reading skills and claims it is not a learning disability, their claims are not legitimate because they are not basing their assumptions on proven medical research that is accepted. The same goes for employers.

An employer is incapable of judging the individual based on proven medical research, because they are not medical professionals themselves. They are employers, directors, managers, and supervisors not doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors. If someone like an employer, or human resources manager in charge of handling the employees, judges one employee with a learning disability who doesn't seem to have as much trouble as another with the same disability does, then that is discrimination and prejudice. Judging one person based on their association or inaccurate assessments does not legitimize those actions. But social stigma and controversy persist because of loopholes in society's institutions.

Social stigma persists, yes, because not everyone cares to differentiate between what mental disorders people suffer from or the various treatments that can be effective. If I haven't begun to sound aggressive about treatment options, then I'd be surprised if a majority of you didn't notice. I just realized I was being very progressive that people with mental disorders and mental health conditions should have treatment options available and comfortable for them to utilize. As I wrote that I recognized a social stigma which I want to clarify while I'm on this subject.

When I have been referring to treatment, I recognized that I've seen this used as a stigma and even a prejudiced term to over-generalize how victims get help. I do not use it to encourage fear or apprehension towards victims of mental illness; neither do I support this type of prejudicial reference. In fact, what you just saw me do in real time as I was writing this was exactly what I try my hardest to do every day. I cared to differentiate between the lines of complex mental health, because I can and I was able to. As soon as I saw myself using the word treatment repeatedly, I used my check and balance of hypocrisy to make sure I wasn't saying one thing but doing another. That's me; a mind that never rests.

Does my Attention Deficit Disorder, a medically documented learning disability, interfere with my ability to perform duties on the job? The better I am trained and supervised, the better my chances will be to ask questions when I don't understand something or when I haven't had enough time to absorb it. I know that can be said about anyone. But for people with learning disabilities as well as mental health conditions, being enabled and empowered to learn efficiently can make all the difference. If the employer pays to offer the same training for every potential new hire, allows managers and supervisors to ignore needs for accommodation, or worse they permit the supervision to be harsh and even bully employees, anxieties will immediately be provoked causing a breakdown of learning and communication. Productivity plummets before eventually the employee is terminated for an unassuming reason.

Big companies get away with discrimination on a regular basis because they have the power. Naming the names of the individuals responsible are not necessarily to blame, as much as the system itself that allows these loopholes to be taken advantage of. Institutions perpetuate social stigmas despite the clear and present needs of people with mental disorders. For a person with a learning disability who never misses a day and isn't late, routinely asks for help but is told everyone gets the same training, these workplace conditions ignore the laws in place stipulating reasonable accommodations to be made because it doesn't fit the company's view of their status quo.

If I still sound rather aggressive it is because I have lived with having a learning disability as well as mental illness, and I've been through discriminatory situations personally. Even rather recently, so I could sit here and spin the future for sufferers in a positive manner but a lot of work still needs to be done. I've managed to earn a bachelor's degree, but only because most of the courses were constructed to be taught by memorization instead of learning by concepts. Therefore, I didn't retain or really learn as much as I should have before prepping for whatever the next test was. I have held down full-time and temporary employment, but not without some contentious situations.

The important thing to take away from all this question and answering on Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, as well as mental health conditions involving depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders, is that they are complex, debilitating, but with the right amount of effort they can be lived with. They don't make you a person to be feared, a person that should be discriminated against, or misunderstood. For the people like me, who do have ADD, we bear the burden of having to learn to live with what we have. Everyone who has a mental disorder has to live with what they have on a daily basis.

I know that by focusing more here on employers, and big name employers as well, I am running the risk of being refused for future employment opportunities. The fact that I have not hesitated here I hope is further proof of my determination to advocate on behalf of mental health, mental disorders, illnesses, and put myself on the line to set things right. For me to live with a learning disability, well, I've made it this far and intend not to let ADD get the best of me. Neither do I intend to let employment discrimination or social barriers become issues for myself or anyone else as I push further ahead with my advocacy.

Categories: To Know Me Better

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