by Leah Stein
Tiferet Bet Israel
The biggest thing I’ve learned working with kids with learning disabilities over this past year is that they see the world in the most wonderfully unique way. I sometimes wish I could dive into their minds and discover the world the way they do.
I’ve had a student who couldn’t tell Hebrew letters apart, or put them together to sound them out, but was great at recognizing patterns within the words. Once you told him what the word said, and what it meant, he remembered it forever. Other kids had to sound out the words and figure out what they meant by themselves to really internalize the language, but he just needed the whole word and meaning in a chunk of information.
I’ve worked with a student who had a hard time focusing around other kids. Despite already being in a relatively small class, he found it difficult to learn. Once you took him out of that setting and began working one-on-one with him though, he made incredible progress.
It made me think a little about why they didn’t process information the same way, why they needed these different conditions to learn. Being an aspiring writer, I’m infinitely fascinated by different world views and experiences. I really can’t say why they have such a different way of learning–that’s not for me to figure out, honestly. What matters is that these kids have a unique view to share with the world, even if it’s just because they notice little things we don’t, or are amazing at making us laugh. I think they’re absolutely brilliant, even if it’s not in the “normal”, socially acceptable way.