Guest editorial: People with learning disabilities are not parasites
February 10, 2015
My name is Nicholas Coleman, and I am a junior at Park City High School. I do not have a particularly long list of credentials to present. I have not attended a series of trophy colleges. Furthermore, I do not have any learning disability myself. In fact, it may seem obscure as to why I’ve written a response to Bruce Margolis’ blatantly invalidating editorial published on January 21, 2015, "Must All Disabilities be Treated at Public Expense?" but I digress. What I do have, however, may simply be referred to as a "heart."
Over the span of my life, which admittedly has only been 17 years thus far, I have come to meet and befriend so many unique individuals. If one were to look upon the student body within our high school, it would be near impossible to distinguish which of my peers have a learning disability, and which do not. Why? It is because those with learning disabilities are not parasitic insects, as Mr. Margolis so elegantly alludes to, but rather sources of inspiration. It is within this diversity that we grow, not diminish. I’m not weighed down by my peers — I am motivated by them each day.
The biggest problem with the state of education within the United States is the emerging mentality that all students, once put into a predefined model, must be exactly alike. As if no individual differs from the rest within their grouping, and if they do, it becomes their fault for being "lazy" and "unwilling" to learn. These sad and neglected dyslexic students that Mr. Margolis so begrudgingly addresses "shockingly" do exist. They’re individuals, with real problems that cannot be overcome solely with literature that spares "gender sensibility or kowtowing to diversity." These students are some of the bravest humans I have ever had the privilege to know.
Dyslexia is not an emotional problem, or the result of bad parenting. It is not unlearned with age, and it does not strike at random times. Most importantly, dyslexia exists on a spectrum, as Mr. Margolis so humorously fails to comprehend. Those with dyslexia cannot simply get over their problems utilizing 1950’s gung-ho’ work ethic — they need help. Compassion and accommodation for individuals isn’t a sign of weakness, it is the definition of humane. Why restrict the success of an individual? Who are we to dictate which of us are to succeed, and which are meant to fail?
The "special treatment" that Mr. Margolis refers to is actually intensive phonetical therapy that is key in helping a student cope with dyslexia. Altering subject material for a student with dyslexia isn’t restricting their growth — that is a blatant jab at those who deal with the daily trials of dyslexia. Invalidating the very existence of dyslexia further perpetuates the idea that simply ignoring an issue makes it magically better. That is unequivocally false. Since when has ignorance ever been the answer?
Dyslexia is a real issue that is not a sign of weakness. Those with this learning disability need specialized programs, as inaction can prove devastating. The story presented by Mr. Margolis, while noble, is riddled with logical fallacies. Attempting to state that those with learning disabilities should simply "toughen up," this argument would be quickly squelched by understanding that dyslexia is not a black-and-white issue. It is time we recognize that learning disabilities aren’t parasitic — they’re inspiring. It is time that we give the tools and funding necessary to help these individuals. If not, we only perpetuate ignorance, all the while invalidating the concerns of those who struggle each and every day.
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