The new HBO documentary airing Tuesday, October 26th doesn’t flinch from testifying to the pain that children with LD and ADHD endure in school: “They said I was stupid, so I thought I was stupid,” says Abby, a bright and articulate nine-year-old who struggled to read, write, and spell. But after receiving appropriate help for her dyslexia, Abby regains confidence in herself, declaring, “Now, I love books!”
“I CAN’T DO THIS BUT I CAN DO THAT: A Film for Families About Learning Differences” is an account of 8 children who speak movingly about their hard-won understanding that they have very real abilities along with their learning problems–and, like Abby, have learned to use their strengths to compensate for their difficulties.
I Can Do That!
The film highlights the resourcefulness, creativity and strengths that schools frequently fail to acknowledge when students with LD are viewed as less capable than others, and are not given the help they need to succeed. As director and producer Ellen Goosenberg Kent notes, the film “encourages students, families, and teachers to look beyond labels and discover the gifts each child possesses.”
An engaging 12-year-old, John used to hate school. Like many of the children interviewed for the film, he was often humiliated in class: His third-grade teacher called on him to do math problems in front of the class, and published his failing grades in the school newsletter. Today John attends Denver Academy in Colorado, a school that acknowledges and supports instruction for children with learning difficulties, and expects them to excel. John says, “I have problems with handwriting, but I can still play guitar!”
And as he notes with wisdom beyond his years, “It’s not a learning disorder, it’s a learning difference. If people think you have a disorder, their expectations drop tremendously. I can do better than that.”
Joey, also 12, is a talented artist, whose room-sized mural of knights fighting dragons reflects his efforts to contain his anger when he has trouble understanding what he hears, or expressing himself clearly—the result of his auditory processing disorder. “I didn’t think I had a very bright future,” Joey says. But after receiving help from trained instructors and the support of his school principal, he says now, “I realized I could change that future.”
I CAN’T DO THIS BUT I CAN DO THAT: A Film for Families About Learning Differences” debuts Tuesday, Oct. 26th (7:30-8:00 p.m. ET/PT) exclusively on HBO.
HBO2 playdate: Nov. 23 (6:00 a.m.)
HBO Family playdates: Oct. 30 (6:30 p.m.) and Nov. 3 (8:30 p.m.), 12 (10:30 p.m.), 18 (6:30 p.m., 2:00 a.m.), 21 (noon) and 29 (8:30 p.m.)
A trailer for is available for viewing at http://www.hbo.com/#/documentaries/i-cant-do-this-but-i-can-do-that-a-film-for-families-about-learning-differences/synopsis.html