I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for a couple months, and was deleting some of my e-mail a few minutes ago, when I came across this article from a woman I met a few months ago, probably before Christmas. I mentioned previously that my parents wanted me to be in a regular classroom when I was in school because there is absolutely nothing wrong with my brain or my ability to think. However, I can’t help but think of those students who never have a chance to be taught alongside other “normal” children. I cannot imagine how they must feel knowing they’ll never be able to learn like the rest of us. I’d personally like to thank Barbara Lee for reminding us that there are other people out there who want to be accepted, even though it may take them a little longer to understand something.
The Enlightened, Heightened, Sensitive Person
By Barbara Lee
There are many facets of the human brain that have not yet been discovered. Through the study of children, we are finding an abundance of learning disabilities. The stack gets higher and higher every day. We all have at least one such disability; if we didn’t, we would all be perfect readers, writers, spellers, mathematicians, poets and the like. As adults, we learn to compensate for our imperfections and move on.
With the study of learning disabilities (LD), autism and hyperactivity, the world was able to open doors for billions of learners. Small class size, individualized education plans and medication are just a small sample of techniques used for the LD population. A disproportionate amount of fair-skinned males continue to be born with learning disabilities allowing us to detect these disabilities and provide intervention at a very young age. The publication of “Why Johnny Can’t Read” was a beginning at focusing on reading patterns in an effort to correct them. “Driven to Distraction,” published in 1994, focused on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), hyperactivity and obsessive-compulsive behaviors that often times people cannot change without the assistance of family, educators and, sometimes, professionals.
Current statistics report that one out of every 93 babies born have Autism Spectrum Syndrome. Autism has no boundaries; it crosses through intellect, gender, race, opulence and culture. Most children with autism are attractive with normal-looking facial and body features. The dilemma they face is a heightened awareness of taste, sound, touch, smell and sight, coupled with an inability to communicate. Thus, the individual draws inward and is not able to relate to the world they live in. Dustin Hoffman exhibited an autistic savant in the movie “Rain Man” and HBO presented a fabulous movie representing the life of Temple Grandin, a woman with severe autism who made wonderful contributions to the prevention of animal cruelty.
When heightened sensibilities turn to liberal and/or fine arts such as music, culinary art, photography, design or writing, we soar high above the rest of the population because we have the capacity to absorb more of our environment in specific fields. Cher, who is dyslexic, and Madonna are outstanding examples of talented women who were ostracized for being different in their youth. The shame is children are often criticized, belittled, bullied and made fun of for owning unique characteristics and behaviors.
I own up to my learning disability. I am not a phonetic speller and very grateful for spell check. I use my heightened sense of awareness to my advantage as an artist and ability to appreciate and play music. Labels in the back of my clothing can be a bit pesky but cut out rather easily. Being distracted leads me to hyper focus or pick up on everything in my surroundings, which is often times awesome when it’s not too LOUD.
About Barbara “Barbie” Lee
An Ohio native, Barbara “Barbie” Lee’s immediate and extended family fostered her art by providing lessons in her home town at The Akron Art Institute at the age of eight. Her extended family still lives in Kittanning, Pennsylvania in the Allegheny Mountains, which allowed her to capture colorful memories expressed in her artwork, with an impressive array of colors and mediums. Barbara has lived and bicycled through all four regions of the United States, which has given her a special artistic flair. She says her best treasures have been found running up and down the eastern seaboard.
Barbara is a member of several art galleries on the East Coast and supports the arts whenever opportunity arises. She entered the Nuevo art contest last year with the Island Art Association, and the theme was “On the Edge.”
Barbara fills her life with volunteer work for Special Olympics, elder shut-ins, nursing home care and various fundraising activities. Her passion is physically disabled children. She has provided respite care and tutors challenged students with autism.
In her spare time, she enjoys simple pleasures of cycling, reading, bird watching, turtle watching, baking, sun bathing, and frequent visits to the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Cafe. She is an avid reader of Children’s Literature and writes on occasion as a hobby.