Understood launches e-zine, for/by, to amplify voices of people with learning and thinking differences

By The Understood Team

Seventy million Americans have a learning or thinking difference, like ADHD or dyslexia. Many of them are misunderstood, undiagnosed, and dismissed, with their difference viewed as a weakness. 

To further our mission of supporting, advocating for, and creating awareness around the 1 in 5 people who learn and think differently, Understood has launched for/by. This e-zine on Medium aims to counter misconceptions about learning and thinking differences by sharing real stories, perspectives, and experiences from neurodiverse people.

A collection of first-person essays written for everyone, by people who learn and think differently, for/by covers a range of honest, raw, and sometimes funny topics. Like forgetting to text back because you have ADHD. Or navigating ADHD as an adult woman. And facing the “real world” after college graduation. With authors spanning different ages, races, genders, sexualities, and learning and thinking differences, for/by brings to light the many realities of being neurodiverse in a world that isn’t built for difference. 

“It was especially important to include diverse writers, because their perspectives, their experiences, and the support they receive vary from person to person,” said Tara Drinks, for/by editor and contributor.

Stereotypes and stigmas — “you’re lazy, unmotivated, not smart” — affect those with learning and thinking differences at every stage and in every area of life. At school. At work. In relationships. Our writers’ powerful storytelling and diverse perspectives offer people who don’t have experience with learning and thinking differences a way to increase their understanding. And, we hope, change their attitudes. 

“The collective and individual voice of those with learning and thinking differences is our most powerful tool to combat stigma,” said Natalie Tamburello, for/by author of the article “Am I Cheating?” Why I Felt Ashamed to Use Dyslexia Accommodations. “Creating a shared culture of storytelling, vulnerability, pride, and visibility for people like us is the only way to bring about systemic change.” 

The platform also is a source of positive change for our writers. Ryan Douglass, for/by author of articles about misconceptions in the classroom and forgetting to text back, said, “For/by allowed me to be transparent about the struggles of growing up with ADHD as a Black kid, and undo the stigma and shame associated with asking professionals for help.”

At Understood, we’re focused on making content that is inclusive, representative, and accessible for all. For/by builds on this mission and the community that Understood continues to cultivate, including our:

  • Podcast Network: The Understood Podcast Network provides “real talk” and personal stories for and from people who learn and think differently. 
  • Community Facebook groups: Our community groups bring parents together to learn from each other, chat with experts, and grow their support network. 
  • Events: Understood events, like our Town Hall and webinars, allow parents, educators, and experts to connect, share experiences, and seek or offer tips for supporting people who learn and think differently.

To support for/by, follow the page on Medium. Read and engage with the content. Share it with your friends and family. And if you have a personal story about your journey with learning and thinking differences that you think could be a fit for for/by, find out about contributing to for/by. Or reach out to tdrinks@understood.org.

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