As the president of Eye to Eye, a nonprofit that supports individuals with learning disabilities, I find this unacceptable. The stigma that surrounds learning disabilities should not persist in 2022. Having ADHD and dyslexia doesn’t mean you are “difficult” or “lazy.” It means you take in information differently.

Funding for invaluable resources and tools has the potential to chip away at this stigma. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom included $60 million for early childhood dyslexia screening and other advancements for young children in his 2022-23 budget. In the philanthropic world, Charles Schwab, who himself has dyslexia, pledged $20 million in 2019 to an initiative to study dyslexia and other learning disorders.

While it’s fabulous that such leaders are putting the power of government and philanthropy behind research and early screening, the funding must go beyond that goal. Philanthropy must support students who learn differently where they are—so they feel seen, heard, valued, and empowered to build community and act or advocate for what they need to be successful. Right now, the system they are in perpetuates the stigma that forces so many to hide their true selves.

A 2019 study by the National Center for Educational Statistics found that having a disability was one of the more common reasons for bullying in schools. It’s no surprise that ignorance can breed cruelty, and ableism in schools but it doesn’t stop with students. A report from the  (NCLD) and found that a quarter of U.S. teachers believe that ADD and ADHD diagnoses stem from poor parenting.

We must confront the ableism that permeates all aspects of our society. Philanthropy can move quickly to support that goal while we wait for the government to act on critical funding questions. It can fuel innovation and ignite social change. I know this to be true because I have seen it with my own eyes. But philanthropy can achieve this only if we listen to the most important voices in the room: those of the students themselves.

Read the full article about supporting all types of learning by Marcus Soutra at Philanthropy News Digest.