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

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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 cover

    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”)

    real

      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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      doctor

        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”)

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        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.

          More by this author

          Matt OKeefe

          Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on November 18, 2021

          10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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          10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

          We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

          A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

          So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

          • honest
          • reliable
          • competent
          • kind and compassionate
          • capable of taking the blame
          • able to persevere
          • modest and humble
          • pacific and can control anger.

          The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

          1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

          All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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          But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

          2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

          How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

          I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

          “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

          Abigail Van Buren

          3. How does this person take the blame?

          Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

          4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

          You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

          5. Read their emails.

          Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

          • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
          • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
          • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
          • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
          • Too many question marks can show anger
          • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

          6. Watch out for the show offs.

          Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

          7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

          A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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          Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

          8. Their empathy score is high.

          Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

          People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

          9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

          We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

          “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

          Stendhal

           10. Avoid toxic people.

          These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

          • Envy or jealousy
          • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
          • Complaining about their own lack of success
          • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
          • Obsession with themselves and their problems

          Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

          Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

          Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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