Is It a Learning Difficulty or a Matter of Perspective?

Filed Under (NLP learning difficulties) on 01-10-2017

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Sometimes people think that someone’s different way of doing something is a learning difficulty. But is it a learning difficulty or a matter of perspective?

The following case inspired me to share the important point that sometimes it isn’t a learning difficulty, but the perspective of the person who calls it a learning difficulty.

My 6-grader child writes backwards.  An example will be if I write a lower case d, I will write it just as the typed one.  He will first write the l and then the c to join it with the l to form the d.  I am concerned because I never had a challenge like that.  His writing is also untidy, which raises concerns in me about how he’ll fit in when he goes to higher grades.

…and here’s how I answered this mother’s concern:

I don’t see your son’s challenge as a problem for as long as he does write the d!  I’ve worked with children who don’t know how to write d at all at your son’s age. And that is a problem!  Where I see a problem is in your perception of this situation.  This may sound cruel, and I don’t want to discredit your thinking.  You say that you’re concerned because you have never had a challenge like that.  Since the way your son writes d is radically different from how you write it, you perceive it as a learning difficulty. But a different way of doing things doesn’t have to be wrong – especially if it produces the desired result. I’ll liken this to making coffee to demonstrate my point:

Some people make coffee by pouring the coffee, then water, then milk into the cup.  Others pour the coffee, then milk, then water into the cup.  The order in which people poured the ingredients doesn’t matter as long as they have a cup of coffee ready for drinking.  Where I see your concern is in the fact that you noticed me pouring the milk in first and realized “wow, I’ve never seen that done before!  Is that wrong because I pour the milk in last?”

If this is the case, the problem will be solved if you accept that others have ways of doing things in a different order of steps.  If this issue is not the core of your concern, then I missed the point.

Then I went on about untidy writing

which is more of a problem. I won’t expand on it here, because I wrote about it here and here.  The gist and inspiration of this article is that sometimes people are concerned about the fact that others do things in different ways, or don’t do them in the same ways.  People interpret different as wrong or weird, and that inevitably raises concern.  So if you’re a parent, family member, or acquaintance of someone who you think may have a learning difficulty because of how s/he does certain things, reexamine your perspective before you label the person as having a learning difficulty.

Do you have a similar experience or situation in life which you’d like an NLP perspective on?  Let’s talk about it.

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