FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON SPECIFIC LEARNING DISORDERS
I return to a topic already debated in this blog (it was the first article written by me back in November 2020, “Specific learning disorders. What do children tell us?”), Because in recent days I have read an article sent to me by a colleague psychotherapist and then others again this month due to the fact that the VII national week of dyslexia was celebrated from 3 to 9 October, organized by AID Associazione Italiana Dyslexia at the same time as the European Dyslexia Awareness Week, promoted by the European Dyslexya Association (Eda). In the Repubblica article in the “Health” section of 2 October 2022 entitled “Is the child lazy and listless? Not at all, he has a learning disability “we talk about SLD and the impact they have on the school and work path of millions of people. (http://repubblica.it/salute/2022/10/02/news/settimana_nazionale_dislessia_disturbi_dellapprendimento-367393303/) .
Initially, with the usual optimism that distinguishes me, I hoped to read something different about it. This is because one of the opening sentences stated that these disorders are not diseases and are not caused by organic damage nor are they dependent on neurological or intellectual deficits. Then, continuing the reading, psychological and environmental problems are mentioned and a word I would like to focus on: “neuro-diversity”.
I look for the meaning of this ends and I find: definition concerned with the promotion of rights and the prevention of discrimination against people neurologically different from the “neurotypical” population.
But what does the latter term indicate? The term is a shortened form for neurologically typical people.
Therefore, the term neuro-diversity indicates different modes of functioning of the neuronal networks involved in different processes, and since these are human specificities that make the ways of learning, socializing, perceiving and communicating different, they should not be treated. It cannot be cured.
I am the first to affirm (supported by scientific data) that these difficulties have no organic and / or neurological causes, but following some in-depth studies, there are still further inconsistencies that deserve attention.
Why, if we talk about individual specificities, is there still this need to divide people into neurodiverse and neurotypical? Basically between people who work normally and not? What does it mean? Normal to whom and to what?
I break my head but if it is said that a disorder is not a disease .. what can not be cured? To have personal characteristics, like having predispositions rather than others? And if this can be extended not only to learning but also to communication and relational skills or not knowing how to draw or compose poetry … what can’t we heal from? From being unique?
It seems to me that I live in an era in which it is continually required to belong to certain standards; an era that goes to organically medicalize everything based exclusively on symptoms instead of worrying about the causes.
An era where it is easier to dispense and compensate, that is, not to have things done instead of having them done as you can, following times and ways more suited to those who are in the situation at that moment. Let everyone empower and express their abilities instead of focusing on what they do less well.
I hear about a world without labels, where to promote inclusion and innovation, but the word neurodiversity leads me a little off the track.
A very interesting interview I saw on 3.10.2022 with Raffaele Iosa (pedagogist, former teacher, didactic director and school inspector) comes to my aid. (https://www.tecnicadellascuola.it/aumentano-a-dismisura-gli-alunni-con-dsa-le-cause-sono-tante-anche-sociali-e-culturali). Iosa takes into consideration interesting questions stating that as far as the diagnosis of ASD is concerned, only cognitive tests are taken into consideration which, considering only the symptoms, exclude many things about the person in a broader sense. It emphasizes a delicate issue such as the reaction of parents to these diagnoses (who often feel relieved by the fact that their children are simply “different”) and the lack of teacher training or the quality of teaching. Iosa very courageously expresses his ideas regarding these themes knowing that they are the children of an enormous cultural battle for which perhaps we are not yet ready. He also says that many questions should be asked about the growing number of these diagnoses, which in 95% of cases are provided by private facilities.
He argues that pedagogy suffers a heavy defeat against the academic and clinical world and that this does not help at all for the growth and development of the little ones.
In the various insights made in the last period, I hear the words “normal” and “different” redundant. But who really cares about classifying people into these two categories? Who among us would be able to classify on one side instead of the other? And on what basis above all?
The only really important thing would be to feel good and to be able to express our uniqueness and predispositions in favor of a life that allows us to fulfill ourselves.
I would not like to go back to political issues but the interview with Iosa reminded me that Law 170 was unanimously approved in full Berlusconi government; I don’t know the connection I have to make, but this thought suggests a statement to me: Human beings are not tools aimed at “useful”, they are not all the same machines designed to run society like small factory robots. They are not born to reproduce or produce. They should not be classified into “defective” and “perfect”, “right” and “wrong”. I like the term UNIQUENESS. Can we really aim for this?