Monday, May 7, 2018

Normal Isn't Real

"The best part of school for me was being done with it."  That quote from the film Normal Isn't Real really stuck with me.  Imagine if you are a child and five days a week for seven hours a day you have to go to a place that makes you feel like crap and no one gets you.  Imagine what that does to a child's self-esteem and mental health.  According to Normal Isn't Real, 1-5 children have a learning difference and don't receive the support they need in school.  Instead, they are made to feel dumb, ostracized and full of shame.  Every educator, parent or anyone who touches the lives of children, should see this film.

LeDerick Horne, myself and a fellow homeschool mom at the DC premiere.

LeDerick Horne

Imagine intentionally putting yourself in situations that could result in the loss of your life.  That was what LeDerick Horne did to escape his feelings of torment about being different in school.  Today, Horne, who is featured in this film, is a successful author, poet, public speaker and disability advocate.  He earned a BA in mathematics with a Fine Arts minor from New Jersey City University and also studied mathematics at Middlesex County College.  He has also written a book Empowering Students with Hidden Disabilities:  A Path to Pride and Success.  Horne said that something that would have made a huge difference in his life -- having a successful mentor who also had a learning difference.  One of his biggest issues was struggling with low self-esteem.  But, his life changed when he had a shift in perspective and began to embrace his differences.  He learned the importance of self-advocacy and positioning himself in places that played to his strengths.

The Director

Krys Kornmeier, the Director of Normal Isn't Real, discovered her own son had learning differences and ADHD 20 years ago.  What she discovered along the way to finding the resources that her son needed is that many children with the same issues as her son are often highly creative and some of our most successful leaders in every field. "But these same issues can result in early school failures that spiral into a loss of self -esteem and derail a bright future. A disproportional number of youths in correctional facilities have been diagnosed with LD and ADHD issues."

Vision for the Film

The vision for the film was not about scientific brain research, but to allow a window into the everyday life experiences of four people who struggled with learning differences and ADHD, yet grew up to be successful. The four unique individuals in the film talk about their lives, their talents, their frustrations and the strategies they used to become successful. Through their unique stories the film aims to promote understanding and most importantly acceptance through real life examples of successful people with learning differences and ADHD.

Mastering Yourself

One of the keys to success as pointed out in this film is the mastery of self.  You have to know yourself and your strengths.  When children are younger, they need parents, educators and the community to advocate for them.  This gets easier as you get older.  Embracing your weaknesses is just as important as knowing your strengths.  Horne said it took him 5 years to finish community college.  But he did it! Confronting challenges, managing them, seeking help and utilizing disability resources is key.  Finding support from others who learn differently is important as well.  A recurring theme in the film was that finding something that you are really good at positively impacts everything else you do.

Support the film and host a screening.  For more information, click here.

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