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For those of you who do not know, I am DYSLEXIC and DYSCALCULIC, the first educational difficulty (sometimes described as a disability) is probably quite familiar to all reading. For those however who are not familiar with the issue, it is simply an issue with signs and symbols associated with the formation and recognition of language. 

I have had DYSLEXIA for a long time, probably my entire life, my mother was not keen on having me diagnosed (though lord knows I could have done with it) for fear of discrimination. I was finally diagnosed 7 months after her passing. It was a relief to finally know why I had difficulties with certain things in my life, and why reading was a slow process. I do however love reading and by proxy writing.

DYSCALCULIA on the flip side is the bane of my life. It is quite simply the same as DYSLEXIA but with regards for numerical systems - explains my math scores. I am quite frankly shocking.

So why am I talking and telling you guys about my educational difficulties (disabilities), well quite simply because I am annoyed/irritated/pissed of in the extreme. 

At the desk at which I am sat are a bunch of books left by the previous user of the desk - I am at a library, trying to write - on disability, sociology and the role of social workers in disability. I have spent my life surrounded by disability, both physical and educational, so I pick up one of the smaller text books. 

I flick through it, agreeing that the role of society does have a significant impact in the way disabled people view themselves. I believe that eternal labels (i.e. labels placed on people by others and not descriptors of themselves produce behaviours and limitations that are not necessarily concomitant with the disorder/disability/difficulty at all.) So participially I agree with this book. But by the time I reach through the end of the text book I am singularly frustrated by its limited scope.

What was the limited scope?

Quite simply it described physical, surface level medicalized  disorders. This is defeating the point of the book, because its principal argument has not only been shown to be evident in its authors, but a prejudice and singular understanding of disability has been presented/taught to the reader.

Disabilities/difficulties/disorders are a much more far reaching in the scope than just physical limitations.

My single problem is the fact that this sociology book is reinforcing the stereotype of "Disability is only what is seen". This is not only incorrect, but highly damaging. Those with what is considered 'hidden disabilities' fight harder for their rights than those with something highly visible (I am in no way meaning to belittle the stereotypically disabled persons fight for rights/acceptance/basic living conditions etc. or to say that they have it easy, they don't. It just happens that it is visible and unarguably present)

Why do we have to fight harder for our rights?

Because, simply, they are invisible, they aren't resultant in some terrible calamity or unfortunate circumstance of birth. They are there and there is not a reason as to why. We just have to get on with it, all the while listening to any one who sees us struggling belittle our efforts.

Belittle? How?

Simply put most of my life I have been told I am stupid, lazy, pathetic, worthless, a daydreamer (okay so that one may be true), an ignorant wretch, and that I was never going anywhere because I just hadn't the intelligence to learn certain things or make anything of myself.

Well as a part of my dyslexia screening I was given an IQ test and barring the fact that my maths and numerical skills are deeply flawed as is my short-term memory, my IQ came out at 124. The average is 97 to 107. Stupid? I think not!

So again the invisible disability is ignored, and those struggling are labelled as anything but what they are, denying them any access to help and support.

So what does this have to do with the book?

By ignoring the invisible disability, to which many hundreds of thousands cope with on a daily basis, this book has swept them back under the carpet, validated the thinking of the idea that it is fakery and negated a large and significant part of the population. As this is a text book that states that it is "Based on the social rather than the medical model of disability" and "Engages health professionals in critical reflection on the provision of services to disabled people" and is meant to guide future health care professionals, of which psychology - a healthcare profession primarily concerned with the internal disorders, and understanding, of the mind - it relegates disability to only the physical, and therefore allows a social opinion and boxing of only physical disability being life impairing and significant.

I am angry. Dyslexia/Dycalculia is just as significant to me, I too need some understanding. I worry when our healthcare professionals are being taught only in the visual or medical realms of disability, when disability is far more encompassing than a narrow definition that this book gave it.
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April 2011

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