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I Thought I was Dumb: The Story of Ben Kilham, Bear Expert

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

National Geographic is running n fascinating story about another “gorilla man.” This man, Ben Kilham, is very successful at rescuing, studying, raising and living with wild bears. He has become the foremost expert on the black bear. Yet, this man, who is married and has children, could not achieve in school because of his reading difficulty. You see, Ben Kilham has a serious case of dyslexia. He does not read now, did not read during his childhood and, as a result, could not achieve in school. He was convinced he was stupid. Yet, it turns out that he scores in the genius range on I.Q. The tests used to measure his intelligence used other than reading methods to measure intelligence. As he himself has stated, success in school depends on reading and those who cannot read are in deep trouble. Yet, he is incredibly successful.

Sound familiar?

Did you grow up believing you are dumb?

Do you remember when teachers had everyone read out loud in class?

Do you remember when classmates made fun of you when you failed to read correctly?

Do you remember feeling stupid and horribly self conscious?

We now know that learning difficulties such as ADHD and Dyslexia contribute to poor performance in school and feelings of inadequacy and depression.

Why depression?

The reason depression results from having learning problems is due to the failure to perform at the level that is expected and hoped for. It is this gap that causes feelings of self doubt and depression or self hatred.

The story of the man who lives among bears is a good example of the human capacity to over-come all types of disabilites and problems by learning to compensate for their limitations. In fact, the capacity to learn compensatory behaviors is the basis of many types of treatment designed to help people learn how to cope with ADHD and reading difficulties so that they can be successful in life.

If you or someone you know has a learning disability then yu should seek help, including help for reducing depression and building self esteem. If you have a child with these difficulties do not be dismayed because there is a lot of help available.

Your comments are welcome

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