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4 Fictional Heroes For Young People With Learning Differences To Look Up To

4 Fictional Heroes For Young People With Learning Differences To Look Up To

Young people with learning differences don’t have nearly enough characters in the media that they’re able to connect with. As someone on the autism spectrum, I certainly didn’t. There were never heroes that I felt were just like me while I was growing up. Sure, there were the outsiders and the loner characters, but it was and still is extremely uncommon for characters with actual learning disabilities to take the center stage in a story, or even enter the stage at all.
Below are four possible exceptions to that rule in the form of four heroes with what could be considered learning disabilities. If you have learning disabilities or especially if you know a young person who does, this post could prove invaluable for you.

1. Drax (from “Guardians of the Galaxy”)

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    Drax inspired this list with his inability to recognize metaphors, as demonstrated in this very poignant, touching Tumblr post. A lot of people, especially young people, who have learning differences can relate to his handicap. Drax, an alien who swore vengeance against a godlike villain for killing his family, is far from your typical role model, but that’s what makes him such a great one.

    Young adults with learning differences have latched onto Drax because he’s so completely different from anyone else they’ve seen on the screen, much like they feel they are in their own lives. I don’t know if Drax was meant to represent people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other learning differences when he failed to understand irony, but he’s certainly become a rallying cry for some of the most underrepresented.

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    2. Oscar (from “The Real Boy”)

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      Not too long ago, Minnesota Life College, a school that helps recent high school graduates with ASD and other learning differences prepare for the real world, held an event featuring young adult author Anne Ursu, and I was fortunate enough to attend. Anne read an excerpt from her book “The Real Boy” and answered questions from the audience.

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      What makes her book so interesting in a sea of young adult literature is that the central character, Oscar, is one of those four heroes with learning differences. In this case, autism, specifically. He’s shy, he’s different and he’s no less lovable for it. Oscar is one of the most accurate heroes with learning differences through whom others can live vicariously as he goes on his adventure.

      3. The Doctor (from “Doctor Who”)

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        The Doctor from the British TV show “Doctor Who” is an alien with two hearts and 13 lives who travels through time and space. His life isn’t exactly similar to that of people with learning differences, but it’s his personality that many of them respond to. He’s clever in a way no one else is, beyond quirky and largely fueled by his wild imagination. All are common, endearing qualities of many young people with learning differences, making him one of the top potential heroes with learning differences.

        4. Sherlock Holmes (from “Sherlock”)

        Sherlock

          The Sherlock that appears in the BBC television show is unique and brilliant, but exceedingly difficult. He’s hard to like at times, but once you get to know him, is impossible not to love. Sometimes he seems cold, but he cares about his friends more than anything. Sound familiar? Young adults with learning differences can relate to the struggles Sherlock goes through as he tries to connect with the rest of the world, and also aspire to his greatness.

          He’s one of the most interesting heroes with learning differences in any form of media. It’s heartening to see the increased attempt to include heroes with learning differences in the media, as audiences and creators become more aware of things like the autism spectrum. If you know any individuals with learning differences, I encourage you to share with them the stories containing these characters so they have people to look up to.

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          Matt OKeefe

          Freelance Writer, Marketer

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          Last Updated on December 2, 2018

          7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

          7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

          When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

          You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

          1. Connecting them with each other

          Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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          It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

          2. Connect with their emotions

          Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

          For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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          3. Keep going back to the beginning

          Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

          On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

          4. Link to your audience’s motivation

          After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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          Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

          5. Entertain them

          While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

          Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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          6. Appeal to loyalty

          Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

          In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

          7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

          Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

          Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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