Celebrating Learning Differences

We find cause to celebrate learning differences! For the majority of people, learning differences are commonly known as “Learning Disabilities”. Here at Footnotes, we prefer to focus on the ‘ability’ of a person, and repeatedly, we see high functioning autonomy, and abilities that happen in each individual that are expressed beyond the simple forms of communication – where most societies set their benchmarks. Indeed, we find time and time again that Footnotes strategies enable an effective capturing of the sometimes otherwise untapped creativity and skill sets that makes each of us so unique. Footnotes strategies are readily applicable to the following so called disabilities/disorders:

  • Auditory Processing Disorder (APD),
  • Dyscalculia,
  • Dysgraphia,
  • Dyslexia,
  • Language Processing Disorder,
  • Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities,
  • Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit,
  • ADHD,
  • Dyspraxia,
  • Executive Functioning,
  • Memory
  • Autistic Disorder (also known as autism),
  • Childhood autism,
  • Early infantile autism,
  • Kanner’s syndrome or infantile psychosis,
  • Asperger Syndrome (also known as Asperger’s disorder, or simply Asperger’s.)
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (also known as CDD),
  • Dementia infantalis,
  • Disintegrative psychosis or Heller’s syndrome,
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified), also known as PDD (NOS) or atypical autism,
  • Linear Thinkers – people who can pass exams but need a CV and qualifications to create a career,
  • Visually impaired through to blind (- Yes! Blind people can ‘see’),
  • Audio impairment through to deafness,
  • Multi Lingual – but no sense of mother tongue Illiterate (for example, people who are from a culture that don’t write down their communication)

We believe that the label of disability/disorder is an inappropriate classification in terms of the many different ways in which people function uniquely. We have observed at times, how ‘support’ for disabilities can cause unnecessary stigmatism. On top of the already heavy requirement on alternative learners to be able to jump through hoops to be ‘normalised’; the help that is offered often creates a sense of alienation, and in some cases an awareness of a problem that wasn’t realised before.

We are not interested in ‘normalising’ an individual, we are interested in celebrating their uniqueness.

In short; sometimes the ‘help’ creates more of a problem. Footnotes enables an individual to think in their preferred way, process in their preferred way and communicate with themselves in their preferred way. It becomes a powerful tool that gives people the ability to communicate with the world; with the detail and expression of intelligence that, in our opinion, is far greater than had previously been required of them in linear/lexical terms. We believe that these individuals profoundly excel when they don’t have to think in the thinking-style given to them. By using the Footnotes grids, they can have peace that they will develop a form of translation once they have identified all corners of their own thought concepts and context.

The other areas that Footnotes celebrates are the numerous benefits that are found by incorporating the grid strategies into everyday living. Understanding and communication becomes open for both the learner and their support, where it may have previously felt clumsy or heavy handed. Through the accumulation of understanding, subsequent emotional connections that become apparent there is much to celebrate! With all of these so called disabilities and disorders, we know that diagnosis is clumsy, and we love hearing from those people who feel that a specific diagnosis for their child ‘doesn’t quite fit’.


Click here for a brief explanation of these learning differences
(in commonly used terms)