Once again I suppose it hinges on whether yo see disabled as a noun,
something which is individual to one, or as the past tense of a verb, a
status which is ascribed to one.
difficulty is neutral, although entirely relative,
I for instance have difficulties in lerning certain things because of my
cognitive set up, it is a disability in so far as I am prevented from taking
up work which requires me to pass a test of number, it is in everday life
more of an inconvenience when I am out shopping, but entirely invisible to
the shopkeepers (thank goodness) else I would be in danger of there taking
advantage and short changing me, in which case it would be a disability
The same can be said for any physical condition too, I don't want to get
back into the old arguments about impairment, but to me, impairment only
relates to a difficulty in achieiving something one desires to do.
I don't want to be an astronaut, so there is nothing impairing me from that.
Most people though do not think that deeply about the meaning of words,
because words do not occupy the same relationship to there lives as they do
Of course there are also those who would, taking there model from the DSM IV
refer to lerning disorders, indeed there are several of them in DSM IV which
in the UK part of the English speaking world tend to be agregated under
Notwithstanding the fact that it is helpful to understand as well as the
etymology of a word its actual historical shifts in meaning, being as
lerning disability originated as a term in the 1940's as an alternative to
Dyslexia, which was disliked for whatever reason.
However in the UK it has come to be a phrase that replaced Mental Handicap,
when the word Handicap fell from favour, and refers to what is still called
Retardation in the US. however I recall from my childhood that REtardation
is nothing less than a latinisation of backward or slow.
In the UK the term refers in the most part to people with an IQ (and I hate
IQ as a measure of anything) sometimes below 80 sometimes below 70 (it is
not consistant at all) also it can apply to a person of a higher IQ if they
have significant cognitive impairments in spite of an average or above IQ,
Words are never simple, they never mean one thing, they mean what the
originator of the message means by it until they reach the ears or eyes of
someone else, and then no two people seem to be able to extract the same
message from them.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: The Disability-Research Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Sara Ryan
> Sent: 24 February 2003 10:55
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: learning disability or difficulty?
> I found the discussions about disabled people/pwd really helpful
> and wondered what the arguments were for learning disability as
> opposed to learning difficulty (or vice versa).
> Should I stop there or open myself to critisms by rambling on a
> bit?!Does the term learning difficulty imply that the 'problem'
> is located within that person and therefore isn't a social
> construction or does it suggest that there is a continuum of
> learning 'ability' that everyone is on?
> If you have a learning disability why aren't you learning
> disabled or don't the arguments in favour of disabled person as
> opposed to pwd apply in the case of learning disabilities?
> And if they don't doesn't this underline the tensions within the
> social model about impairment?
> Please, please be gentle with any responses.... and thanks!
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