Strengths and Abilities Associated with Learning Differences

“Are there any particular gifts associated with the learning disability my child has been diagnosed with?”

This is a common question from parents, and it reflects something that none of us did as children. Although children were always given lessons and encouraged to learn, in today’s world, they’re also watched anxiously.  Is this the place where my child will display their special gift?

But what if your child isn’t good at anything?  What if your child doesn’t have the skills to excel in any area of school, except perhaps storytelling or a sport?  What if your child hates the sports that you send them to, perhaps has some social skills challenges, and isn’t showing any particular gifts at all—and they’re the ripe old age of 8?

We Now Know That LDs Also Have Associated Strengths

It’s a natural step to identify your LD child’s challenges. But it’s not always such a natural step to identify her strengths.  Many books and articles encourage parents to identify their children’s strengths, but many parents have no idea of what those strengths look like. “It felt like all of the other kids were playing violin or soccer stars,” said Brenda.  “Was there some gift that was supposed to develop all of a sudden?”

Many people and organizations through the years have written and spoken out about the gifts and strengths of people who learn differently. This includes Linda Silverman, Ph.D., who wrote the book Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner, Ron Davis, who wrote The Gift of Dyslexia, and, Dr. Fernette and Dr. Brock Eide, authors of The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, and creators of an online community at

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The following diagram of shared strengths is based upon a list published by Hull University.

Many of these particular strengths won’t become apparent until your child is considerably older. If you have a young child, and you don’t see strengths that you recognize on this list, don’t worry. It’s a myth that every child displays a specific “gift” at a young age. It’s fine to just be a child who demonstrates good qualities, like: good sense of humor, sense of fun, the ability to ask for and give help, and so forth.

Children develop in surprising and amazing ways, but it takes time. Many parents of older students who were worried about their children in early grades now report that their children have many of the strengths mentioned in this diagram, and more. Complex, whole-picture, integrative thinking takes time.

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