Living with a Disability: The Less you Know the More you Stand to Gain

Falling off a Cliff…

I am sure we have all had that one moment in life when we have beaten ourselves up for being slow at learning a new skill. I know that feeling of falling off a cliff, the feeling that emanates from being a gradual leaner in a world that seems to run on by. Just the thought of being a lesser force in the eyes of other people can be stressful and can lower our self-confidence.

I am by formal diagnosis, developmentally disabled. The specific label for my handicap is called autism. I have trouble comprehending physical tasks such as mopping, sweeping, and even mowing. I can do computer tasks perfectly – it is the assignments that require hand and muscle to perform that causes the initial problem.

I usually need several demonstrations and elaborations for me to finally get a new task down, but the important concept is to finally get the task down and mastered. Since I do have trouble learning new tasks, I have a job coach at my place of work. Job coaches help new workers succeed by providing specific examples of specific tasks that need completed by oral communication and visual example. They also assist in giving feedback, so that we can do our job more efficiently the next time around.

At first I was like a salmon trying to swim upstream. I could not push myself to work hard anymore after my first few mistakes on the job. I felt like what a baseball player must feel after losing an important game. I felt very discounted, and felt above all else, that I would never learn anything.

Common Negative Feelings about Being Developmentally Disabled

“I Am Useless”
“Someone Could do Better”
“I do not Have Enough Experience”
“I am being Watched and Evaluated”
“I Only Fight the Small Fires”

Most of the reasons above that I have listed were also my beginning thoughts when I had started working. I believe that others might feel the same way – judged, constantly evaluated and often labeled by others as less competent. It is true that we are slow at learning things, but the only importance is that we get to where we are going eventually and are still happy while doing it.

After many questions and coaching, I finally got all the tasks down. And after two weeks went by, I was constantly being referred to as a hard worker. Just because we learn at a slower rate, doesn’t imply that we won’t ever be an hard worker.

It’s Time to be Yourself

I don’t want you to get the idea that being a unique learner is actually bad, it isn’t. There are several key perks about being developmentally disabled that I have discovered during my time at the humane society. The key to feeling confident about being a slow learner is that the less that you know – the more you stand to gain. It is as easy as it sounds.

In the working world, it is only natural to feel good about ourselves when we finally conquer a new skill. The longer a skill takes to master, the better we feel. In other words, the less we know, the more we have to learn and the more we have to gain. So if that one hard task requires an extra day to learn, than that is just one more reward that you deserve – along with a pat on the back!

The second good thing about being developmentally disabled is that I find it possible to never get bored of work. I feel every new skill is a huge stepping stone towards a much bigger objective. It is much like a video game in that we get assigned harder tasks when we advance past the simple ones. The positive end of this thinking is that you will succeed much more professionally if you do not stress about the small stuff and learn from past errors.

Reward Yourself

I have realized that people whom are learning disabled are usually very hard workers since additional work is mandated to get to where we are wanting to go in life. If you are like me, you also put off rewarding yourself until later. Studies have shown that if rewards are given right when we succeed, it increases our confidence. So I have been rewarding myself a lot more lately for my hard work and I encourage you to do it as well.

Being developmentally disabled is not a bad thing. Being slow to learn things can be annoying, but I have found that learning information at a slower pace can increase our overall general understanding too, and that is the most important thing – the final result after everything is said and done.


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