By Sam Marx & Adriana Dakin, Friends of Quinn
To many, having a learning disability is more than just having a difficult time learning. It is often a huge barrier that must be crossed every time the person wants or needs to communicate, whether at school, out shopping, ordering at a restaurant, or even hanging out with friends. It’s not that the person doesn’t know what they want or doesn’t know how to interact in these situations; sometimes it just takes more time to process information and find the right words to say.
In many instances, this extra time to think and find the right words to say immediately creates negative perceptions by others. When someone without a learning disability interacts with a person that does, they may become impatient, irritated, confused, or even scared because this experience is unknown to them. The real tragedy here is that this can lead to people with learning disabilities feeling like it’s their responsibility to keep their voices down, their opinions unheard.
Quinn Bradlee, son of bestselling author Sally Quinn and Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, was born with Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS), a little-understood disorder that affects 1 in 2000 people and is expressed through a wide range of physical ailments and learning disabilities. After graduating from the Gow School and attending The Lab School in Washington, D.C., Quinn wrote his memoir, A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures. He wanted to share his experiences of growing up in order to show that it was more of a difference than a disability.
While doing this work, he realized there were no definitive resources out there for people like him that would help them become empowered, and that is why he started Friends of Quinn, an online resource. Friends of Quinn is more than just a website with helpful information; it’s also a space where people aged 18 to 35 with learning differences (aka disabilities) and their families can come to have frank discussions about issues that impact all of us, such as moving out and life after graduation, dating, overcoming bullying, and other topics. Members of Friends of Quinn are encouraged to share fun information about themselves to spark new friendships, ask questions about things that are troubling them, and find answers from others that have had similar experiences.
The mission of Friends of Quinn is simple: You have a difference, but you have to own it. As Sally Quinn wrote in a recent blog post, it’s like coming out of the closet for some! Earlier this month Quinn wrote about his experiences for the Huffington Post; you can read it (and share!) here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quinn-bradlee/learning-disabilities_b_1571541.html
Check out Friends of Quinn to get resources and feel more comfortable sharing your voice! Spread the word about Friends of Quinn as a resource & community for people with learning differences.
Click here to watch a video about Quinn Bradlee and Friends of Quinn.
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/friendsofquinn
On Twitter: www.twitter.com/friendsofquinn @friendsofquinn