'Smart but Stuck'

February 21, 2008 10:47:17 AM PST
More than ten percent of the United States' population has a quantifiable learning disability.This can create problems with jobs, social life and self esteem.

Having a learning disability doesn't mean you are not smart; you are. That's why it is important for both children and adults to learn to accept it.

Myrna Orenstein once sang opera.

"I sang in the chorus, the supplementary chorus of Lyric Opera when I was 18, 19 and Lyric just a couple years older then and that was just a fabulous experience," she said.

Reading music was enjoyable, but academically she was struggling, especially because she was working on her Ph. D.

"I'm a slow reader, and the reading got too much. And I got very discouraged, and I know about LD because I had taken some courses. And so I decided to get tested at it, and sure enough I was one of the walking wounded," Orenstein said.

Because of her personal experiences, the clinical social worker and psychotherapist focuses on adults with learning disabilities, in other words, smart people with learning gaps.

"Most people ignore them, try to stay away from situations where they would find themselves in an embarrassing place, but people are also fabulous at compensating for it even if they don't know they have a learning disability," Orenstein said.

Many individuals with learning disabilities are successful business people.

"Ten percent of all successful businesses, the owners are dyslexic. They knew they needed help, and they couldn't do it alone when they're going through school. And they got used to that, so they're very used to delegating, asking for help. And that has only enhanced their business," said Orenstein.

To help others, she wrote "Smart But Stuck: How Resilience Frees Imprisoned Intelligence From Learning Disabilities."

"They will know, first of all, they're not alone, there's hundreds of people out there like them. They will also know that they're not stupid, that they have this one little glitch, but the rest of them is really just fine," said Orenstein.

She says because there are so many different learning disabilities, there is no blanket answer to skirting the problem. If you want to know more about Myrna Orenstein and her book, visit www.smartbutstuck.com