We have created a system that has you submit yourself, or your child, to patient hood to access the right to learn differently. The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.
Source: The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed
My family lives this system, which is why I really appreciate Albemarle County Public Schools’ Seven Pathways, which states:
No child within the Albemarle County Public Schools should need a label or prescription in order to access the tools of learning or environments they need. Within the constraints of other laws (in particular, copyright) we will offer alternative representations of information, multiple tools, and a variety of instructional strategies to provide access for all learners to acquire lifelong learning competencies and the knowledge and skills specified in curricular standards. We will create classroom cultures that fully embrace differentiation of instruction, student work, and assessment based upon individual learners’ needs and capabilities. We will apply contemporary learning science to create accessible entry points for all students in our learning environments; and which support students in learning how to make technology choices to overcome disabilities and inabilities, and to leverage preferences and capabilities.
Source: Seven Pathways
Yes to all of that.
I like Albemarle’s approach to education technology. I write about them in “Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism” and “Communication is oxygen. Collaborative indie ed-tech.“
They recognize the structural, institutional, and framing problems Jonathan Mooney describes in this great talk on reframing LD and ADHD (which is the source of the title and opening quote in this blog post you’re reading).
I transcribed my favorite moments from the talk in “The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed”. I’ll conclude with selections making the case for two of my rules of thumb for inclusion.
- agent > patient
- identity > diagnosis
“The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.”
An essential component of my journey was an identity transformation from being a patient to being an agent.
Disability industrial complex is all about what people can’t do. We spend most of our time trying to fix what they can’t do. When all we do is fix people the message we give to them is that they are broken.
We’ve built an entire edifice of intervention that’s about fixing people.
We’ve built this whole infrastructure about fixing folks, about turning people into passive recipients of treatment and service, of turning people into patients. But being a patient is the most disempowered place a human being can be.
You gotta fight against this, you gotta be an advocate, you gotta have a voice in your education.
We need to cultivate a sense of agency in people which is the opposite of patient hood.
The most meaningful interventions, the most meaningful people in my life were people who cultivated a sense of agency.
We have a medical community that’s found a sickness for every single human difference. DSM keeps growing every single year with new ways to be defective, with new ways to be lessened.
When all we do is fix people, the message we give to them is that they are broken. Nobody lives a meaningful life feeling broken.
It’s that narrow definition of intelligence, behavior, and motivation that is really my disability. Not dyslexia, not ADHD.
In many learning environments we think good kids sit still. The good kid is the compliant kid.
Young folks like me are given the identity of being bad.
“What is your problem?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that word in my life.
I was given this identity that I was a problem because of a norm in the environment that good kids sit still.
We’ve built learning environments based on the myth that appropriate and valuable human behavior is about compliance.
I had overcome not ADHD, but I had overcome the feeling of being the defective person morally because I didn’t comply to the myth that good kids are compliant.
That’s agency. That’s somebody who refuses to negate somebody’s humanity because of a label.
Source: The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed
18 thoughts on “The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis.”
When someone explained to me that requesting accommodations (in work and at school) was more like a negotiation process, I was stunned. It really shouldn’t be like that.
Navigating the deficit and medical models requires lots of negotiation and phones, two things I really do not like. If my partner wasn’t a high-energy talker, we’d be doomed.