What’s Your Dave Story?
I don’t usually hang with celebrities, so I was thrilled when one offered to review the audio version of Daveland. But then he took issue with my use of the phrase “learning disability.” He, like many others, prefers the term “difference” over “disability.” Once upon a time, the word “dyslexia” served as a catch-all term but that fell out of favor because it’s not as inclusive as learning disability, and now disability has given way to difference. I believe all of these terms have a place but are insufficient by themselves to explain this complex set of nuerological quirks that often manifest themselves in unique ways with each of us.
Every dyslexic is LD but not all LD people are dyslexic, nor are all disabilities differences. For example, if my neurological problems ever get to the point where I have to ask the legal system for help, I would use the term disability, not just difference. Yet, as bothersome as these “D” words are, I find the term “learning” even more problematic. Using school-inspired terms detracts from the larger social implications of our experiences when life itself feels out of synch with our faulty wiring. (Also, good teachers can only do so much, and their primary goal is to get us through the system, not through life.) Nor can these terms begin to explain the complex mixtures of symptoms unique to each person. Or the difficulty of diagnosing, treating, and getting health insurance to cover the costs.
My story started with traditional LD symptoms: attention problems, mangled hand-writing, and puzzlingly low performance. Eventually, as an adult, I learned that I had virtually no short-term visual memory. But getting a complete diagnosis was tricky. I also had an even more undiagnosable anomaly that looked like a mild seizure disorder, but my insurance company didn’t want to pay for a neurologist to investigate it fully. In the end I gave up my search for a proper diagnosis and realized I had to deal with the complexity of my symptoms on my own. I explain how in Daveland:
“Over the years, terms and conjecture flew around like political promises to explain my episodes: temporal lobe epilepsy, focal seizure, petit mal etc . . . Never anything definitive. With all my little learning quirks and ticks, it became difficult to keep track, so I just called them Dave.”
Dave is my lifelong companion/adversary, an indecipherable presence who makes himself known even when he’s hiding in the background. I call my life with neurological anomalies Living Dave. So, what do you call yours?
I want this blog to be a safe place to share thoughts and expand the conversation. There will be no judgments about errant grammar and spelling. You are free to say what you want here, but you are not free to be mean. Daveland Stories is a place where we can talk about the whole experience of living with Dave: the good, the bad, and the hilarious. Millions of people are touched by LD and our best hope as a community is to build understanding through conversation. Your comments will help shape this forum as we discuss topics like compensating with a sleight-of-hand, education reform, public perceptions about LD, this whole giftedness thing, musings on the concept of “smart,” and tips from you on how to thrive. In other words, I want to hear your Dave stories!
By the way, even though reading Daveland is not a prerequisite to join the conversation, it would be great to have other readers involved. And, for those who would rather listen than read, I’ve created a special audio version that you can learn more about at Davelandthebook.com. I’m also offering a free e-book version to the first person who goes to my website and contacts me following every post. So, write me, and we’ll get this conversation started.