Two weeks ago, my Pop Pop lost his battle to cancer and passed away. He was a great family man who helped inspire my love of history from hearing family stories. For example, my ancestors created a patent for a cigar cutting. The origin of the Cahill could only go back to people going on a wagon west. Where West we are never sure (California, or the other side of town). The last time I saw him was in January when I visited them in Arizona. It was a peaceful day. We sat in a Gazebo and enjoyed the warm weather and put family photos in a photo book for them. He and my Grandmother had/have memory problems and I wanted to provide them with a book of all their memories to help remember. It was just a great day.
During the funeral, my family all ventured to Bohemia NY on Long Island. My grandparents lived there for 50 years before their health got bad. My Aunt and co. from Arizona and Uncle and co. San Diego came as well. It was nice to see all the family again.
One night at dinner, we were catching up and talking about my grandfather. One of the subjections that came up was LD/ADHD. This might be a weird topic to bring up at a family event. But considering that I write this blog and am a student coordinator at Eye to Eye, my sister is ADHD and my Mom teaches LD/ADHD students the topic is as common as talking about the weather. The reason the topic was brought up because my dad and Uncle talked about having ADHD. They where never dialogued, but they have the traits of it.
This happened I kid you not. My uncle was talking and he said, “look a squirrel.”
At the table, my Uncle discussed how he has difficulty with comprehension. He explained that he can read a book but if he was asked to explain what he read it is difficult for him. Something about transferring his thoughts to words. He also explained that he is a tactical learner. For example, he can build anything just by looking at it or by the thought he drew up in his head. Also he has good street smarts which helps him in his job of Law Enforcement.
My Dad shared that writing is not his strong suit. The irony is he writes reports most of the day at work! His trouble is paying attention. For example his thoughts drift during the day. He also cannot sit down. He always has to be doing something. In our living room, my mom clears the side tables because he would play with anything on them. Scissors, pencils, lacer pointers if it is on the side table he will play with it. Despite this, he can solve problems be it a Nuclear emergency or a leaky sink. He is always thinking of solutions to problems!
The conversation shifted to how we think my Pop Pop had LD as well. They mentioned that he rarely ever read and if he did it was a manual. Despite his trouble reading, he was able to create luscious gardens in his backyard. He was also forced as a kid to write with his right hand despite being lefty. I am trying to get more information about my Pop’s LD but since he was in grade school during the 1930’s-40’s, the idea of LD/ADHD was not even constructed. At the time, my grandfather might have been seen as a bad student since he does not learn the same way as others.
I come out of the family table conservation amazed at the line of Cahill’s with LD/ADHD. I think it is so cool! I can’t trace the wagon doing West but I can trace my families LD/ADHD roots!
What amazed me was the idea of Different Thinkers. It is a word that is throw around in Eye to Eye and other organizations. Different Thinkers are people that see and tackle school, work etc. in other ways than the norm. Different thinkers help communities because their outside the box thinking helps with innovate and problem solving. My Pop Pop, Uncle, Dad, my sister and Me are all different thinkers. I think that in my life time, there is a greater acceptance of people with LD as Different Thinkers. For example, many students are provided with accommodations that allow them to read by listening instead of looking. The students are smart they just find it more efficient to listen to books. Nothing wrong with that!
In my grandfather’s childhood, Different Thinkers would go outside the norm and be seen as a problem than a new perspective. For my uncle and dad, the idea of people with LD as Different Thinkers was being created with section 504 and other disability rights. But even though now there is a greater acceptance of Different Thinkers, I don’t think it is not big enough. At the funeral we had a slideshow of my Pop Pop. One of the photos was of his garden. He would give vegetables to the church if he had to many. Now the cucumber might be the size of your face but he was able to grow it! Everyone was amazed at the size of it and heard about it. I was as well. I remember as a little kid but it has been a while before he seen it.
He was able to make this garden without really reading or writing about gardening. He figured out from others and own experience to grow plants and make them blossom. Most people would read everything they could because that is how they learned to do it but not my grandfather. I think sometimes we as a society has these “rules” or “rights of passage” before people can aspire something. I think this is dumb. We should embrace ruler breakers and differentness because they rewrite and change on what society thinks is just. My grandfather might of had trouble with reading, but he was able to make gardens that impressed people. That is what we should embrace. Be it a garden or something else, at the end of the day, we are remember for how we make a change on others and society. Why do we have to wait until we pass? Lets admire and embrace differentness now! By doing so we can once and for all dismiss the idea that Different Thinkers are problems to schools and society.
They are instead the answers and solutions we have been looking for.