According to the English Oxford Dictionary, the definition of stigma is as follows:
“A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.”
Many students with learning-related disabilities report significant feelings of stigmatization. It can bring an emotional distress of low self-worth. In a school setting, the stereotype threat and the fear of being judged, can cause a high level of underperformance across content areas.
The stress after being identified with a learning disability may cause an individual to experience self- stigmatization. Self-stigmatizing beliefs cause a person living with learning disabilities to have a diminished sense of self or feel socially disconnected from others.
A significant way to improve self-confidence when living with a learning disability or ADHD is to get educated about the disability. Shifting the focus of shame off of one’s shoulders and reaching out for resources is key in progressing towards success. When an individual understands the disability, he/she is able to overcome the stigma by building steps towards confidence. In turn, students identified with learning disabilities in the school setting are entitled to many resources. It is in this instance of an appropriate diagnosis, that the “label” of a learning disability can bring clarity and much needed resources and support. As self-education occurs, making the leap towards educating others about the myths of learning disabilities is a critical step in this learning curve.
To overcome a “possible” stigma, create a new reality for one’s-self and show how living with LD and ADHD is not something to wear in shame. Gaining self-confidence will transform you into a person who is respected and seen as an “advocate”.
Click here for examples of how certain famous people have acknowledged their “disability” but not let it define them. They have achieved a distinguished career later in life by learning to use available and newly emerging technology to overcome their challenges.