Lifelong Learning Programme

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Personal Experience

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Like Einstein and Leonardo?

A. M.
Language: English
Country: Italy
Typology: health care professionals
A. M. is nine years old and he is a fragile child, he is sometimes bold, sometimes scared: he likes to come here and does not shirk any proposal. His family has submitted a request for a medical specialist because he shows learning difficulties, which can be attributed to a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), and for this reason they require better insights into his clinical case. The cultural and economic level of his family is medium/high. By following the procedures of our profession, A. M. is first examined by me (the speech therapist) and then by one of the Psychiatry staff: when we finally compare the outcomes of the exams, we diagnose his illness as a Nonspecific Learning Disability, with a QI lower than the norm. Therefore, the suspected initial diagnosis of SLD, made by the referring physician, is contradicted by in-depth analyses, whose outcome is curricular difficulties, which can be attributed to a very low intellectual level bordering on mental retardation. The meeting with his family is "opened" by his father, who, with resolute tone, begins by listing the characteristics of the people suffering from SLD, looking for and finding possible similarities between these people and his son and complaining about injustices/inefficiencies of the school and health care systems, while his wife passively listens to him. The source of his information is clear because, among others, he mentions famous people suffering from SLD (Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, etc). He is visibly upset. What is equally obvious is the need for these parents to cling to a diagnosis of SLD, to remove as much as possible the diagnosis that perhaps they have always feared. It is emotionally very difficult to trigger and participate in the slow collapse of the wall behind which these parents have taken shelter. The tears of his mother are initially a reason for tension (her husband tells her to “affect composure”) and embarrassment, but then they pave the way to openness and acceptance. Also thanks to the external support that has been clearly offered after the initial meeting, it has been possible to change some educational practices (e.g., always putting him in situations of sporting or school competition, etc) and to review some attitudes (e.g., excess evaluation which was always followed by heavy devaluation). Now, A. M. likes to go to school and continues to grow up.

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