Monday, August 11, 2008

Undiagnosed Learning Disability Is Subplot on Lifetime TV’s ARMY WIVES

I’m always on the look-out for learning disabilities that haven’t been diagnosed. A few years ago I diagnosed ADD in a 10th –grade friend of the family based on something he said to me. (“I don’t know why I didn’t study for my history exam – I love history.”)

The boy’s younger sister had already been diagnosed with ADD. But because he didn’t present the same as his sister, his went undetected until his parents had him tested after I gently suggested this to them.

Which is why I was pleased that, in episode 10 of Season 2 of Lifetime TV’s ARMY WIVES, Roxy was told by Roland, who’s teaching a GED course, the reason she failed the practice exam even though she knew the material. It was because she had a learning disability that interfered with transferring her knowledge to a written test. Roland told her she wasn’t dumb; in fact, she was smart. She just needed to take the test orally.

True, this reveal was not nearly as compelling as the reveal when fans of THE COSBY SHOW found out along with Theo, when he was already in college, that he had a learning disability that interfered with his test taking. (My tears flowed when Vanessa told her father he should be sorry for all the times he ragged on Theo about his grades.) Or in PUNKY BREWSTER when a 12-year-old couldn’t read the poison antidote instructions that could save her younger brother.

In case you believe that you may have an undiagnosed learning disability, there’s a book that may speak to you. Dr. Mel Levine’s A MIND AT A TIME is a treasure trove of explanations of numerous areas of the brain that can affect things that we do (or can’t do).

The author’s writing style is quite dense so you have to be determined to plow through the material and extract the relevant information. Yet the result may be worth the work, especially if you discover some thing or things that you may have been unfairly beating yourself up about all your life.

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