Do I have a learning disability?
I have to be honest. I’m not an artist. I am a pretty good at colouring, but I never really expected to use art in any form to of research. But in my 1st year of grad school the option was there and I took it.
One type of drawing I’ve been pretty good with is stick people. So I decided to use stick people and some text to talk about my learning disability. This project was difficult, but got me to really think about the way my brain works and how this impacts me outside of academic settings.
This ended up being an important project to me. It was my introduction to understanding neurodiversty. It also stressed the limitation that labels like ‘learning disability’ provide. Suggesting that a persons neurodiversity will only become a barrier within specific social institutions. In this case, education institution.
Having learning a lot from the arts based paper I chose to present the paper at Reclaiming Out Bodies and Minds. This is a inter-university conference (in 2015).
What is a learning disability? Do I have one? When I was diagnosed with a learning disability I was told about my strengths and weaknesses. Many of these strengths and weaknesses were shared by other members of my family. This made me begin to wonder why I would be the first person in my family with a diagnosed learning disability. After reading the article Why is there learning disabilities? A Critical analysis of the birth of the field in its social context by Sleeter* I began to realize that a learning disabilities can be strongly influenced by social conditions. Thus, I begin to breakdown my learning disability diagnosis. The only part of my diagnosis that I found is not built around expectations of the education system is a neurological dysfunction. This project will explore how this neurological dysfunction has impacted my life. This process will question the purpose of a learning disability assessment, its limited scope, and present my argument of why I do not have a learning disability. I will complete this process by presenting drawings of my life experiences, which will be explained through personal stories, about how the neurological dysfunction impacts my life. This will show that the neurological dysfunction effects my whole life, breaching the boundaries that learning disabilities place upon my identity.
*Sleeter, C. (1987:2010). Why is there learning disabilities? A Critical analysis of the birth of the field in its social context. Reprinted in Disability Studies Quarterly 30(2).