Most people think having a learning disability or attention disorder is a negative. While there are absolutely challenges and struggles with each, a new book suggests to start thinking otherwise.
“The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius,” by Dr. Gail Saltz, suggests learning or mental disorders go hand in hand with strokes of genius. She interviews more than 50 experts in the fields of psychiatry, child development and education to shed light on how extraordinary things are accomplished by those simultaneously facing difficulties.
Saltz profiles children with autism who are master Lego engineers, one young person with Asperger’s syndrome who is an expert in U.S. presidential history, and a dyslexic child who makes treats in the kitchen with the experience of a master-trained chef.
All of the research that Saltz presents points to the connection between disorder and genius. Where you are lacking in some basic skill such as the ability to read, focus or interact normally with others, you more than make up for in other areas.
Children with disabilities tend to have an abundance of innovative and free-flowing ideas, as well as heightened aptitudes for art, music, mathematics and science.
In fact, some of the greatest minds history, such as Einstein, Hemingway, and Darwin, also suffered from learning or mental health challenges.
With approximately 6.5 million children in the U.S. currently receiving special education services (National Center for Education Statistics), the idea of focusing solely on what these children can’t do is outdated, believes Saltz.
A much more positive approach is to adopt one of foresight, and reinforce in children with disabilities that they have special gifts and that their potential is as high as the sky.