Social Impact of a Diagnosis: A 2e Learner’s Perspective

The need to fit in and belong could arguably be one of humanity's most desired traits, especially for children. When you are a child with learning differences, it can be exceedingly difficult to find that sense of belonging, especially when just wearing glasses or being bad at soccer can be enough to ensure social isolation from all the other kids.

Before I was diagnosed as being gifted in some artistic and academic areas with challenges in the areas of processing speed, working and sequential memory, and number comprehension and retention (along with generalized math disabilities), I struggled socially, experienced bullying, and didn't fit in with other students my age despite having a very strong social drive. Having difficulty in my classes impacted my emotional state; tantrums and anger stemming from not getting my way occurred in the classroom and during recess. But would a diagnosis change that?

For many kids, being officially diagnosed as disabled or gifted feels like a social deathblow. What's worse than having a signed doctor's note validating ostracization from your classmates? This fear is something that was explored in the TV show Malcolm in the Middle, in which the titular character was terrified of moving to the gifted class. The desire to fit in is embedded in almost all children's media.

But I didn't really have a fear of diagnoses because my learning issues were already causing me to struggle, and I already was ostracized. My diagnosis gave my teachers, my family, and me a better understanding of why.

When I was 10 years old, a diagnosis meant a few things. First, there was a logical reason that made it difficult for me to fit in with my classmates and that I wasn't the bad kid all my teacher...


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About Elinor Shapiro

Elinor Shapiro is a multimedia artist and native of Los Angeles. She studied fine art at California State University Northridge, where she developed her individual voice using charcoal, pastels, ink, acrylic, and oils. She then relocated to France, where she is associate director at the artist residency Chateau Orquevaux. In the midst of the pandemic she temporarily moved to New York City, where she is self-isolating and pursuing new forms of expression, combining words, figures, and emotions to represent the many facets of her artistic voice.