Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When Disabilities Become an Ability

There is an abundance of information circulating about learning disabilities, ADD and ADHD. Emotions run high when parents find out that their child has one or more of these ‘Disabilities’. Many freak out.
However, what if we look at this from another angle? Most things in life are about perspective, after all.
I have invited Amie Borst, co-author of the soon-to-be-released novel, Cinderskella, to shed a different light on these issues. 

Thanks for having me on your blog today, Ann Marie!  It’s an exciting journey to publication and even more emotional when a child author is involved.
My 12 year old daughter, Bethanie, co-wrote our book, Cinderskella, when she was only 9.  We worked on refining, revising and acquiring feedback through my critique group and beta readers.  We even read the book in its early stages to her classmates! 

Of course, these tasks were made even more difficult because of Bethanie’s disabilities.  She has ADD/ADHD among other learning disabilities and keeping her attention to the work at hand really required effort.  But it was a great exercise for both of us.
We discovered the ways that Bethanie works – and learns – best.  As with most children with learning disabilities, she likes to be hands-on.  So she enjoyed cutting clips of paper, dividing them into color-coded categories such as characterization, theme, plot, and world-building, and taping them to our storyboard. 
When it was time to write, she functioned best when I broke the work down into bite-sized pieces for her.  Instead of writing an entire chapter, she liked writing a pivotal scene.  Then I was able to apply that scene in the framework of a chapter.
And, when the manuscript was complete, instead of presenting her with a 230 page manuscript, the best way to involve her in the editing process was to have her read one chapter at a time.  She also enjoyed being read to, which I then allowed plenty of time for interruptions and notations as she suggested changes.
I was able to discover her strengths as well.  Bethanie is incredibly witty.  Her sense of humor is a true delight.  She has a vivid imagination rich with descriptions.  And she has the ability to keep it real so that the story is relevant to children her own age.  I’m too old and talk too much like a mom to “get it” as she would say!
So while some may call disabilities a challenge, we think it’s what makes her so creative!  After all, Bethanie may have some learning disabilities but it hasn’t kept her from being a published author at such a young age! 

About Cinderskella:
Cindy might think that being 11 ¾ is pretty awful, but she’s about to find out that there’s nothing worse than having a horrible, terrible curse that turns her into a skeleton at nightfall.

How could anything possibly get worse, right? Wrong! Cindy now has put up with her new step-mother, not to mention her odd behaviors. And forget about getting her biggest crush, Ethan, to notice her. Cindy’s life is as miserable as it gets. But when she learns her skeleton curse allows her to visit her dead mother in the Underworld, she might just be willing to leave it all behind, even if it means putting everyone she loves in danger.
Cinderskella releases October 26th, 2013.

You can find out more about Amie and Bethanie on Facebook and on Amie’s blog. 


  1. Thanks so much Ann Marie! We appreciate your generous support and wish you all the best!

  2. It was my pleasure, Amie. You and Bethanie deserve every success and happiness.
    Thanks Lehua.

  3. Great post. I have ADD, as do my younger brothers. I went undiagnosed until I was an adult, and spent many years being down on myself after hearing over and over that I wasn't "living up to my potential."

  4. Hi Dan, that must have been so tough. At least now people are realizing how smart kids with ADD and ADHD are. We are, hopefully, learning acceptance; but we have quite a ways to go still.

  5. Yeah, it made me incredibly hard on myself for a long time. There were very high expectations for me because of how well I tested as a child, and that came back to haunt me in the form of disappointed parents and teachers. Very liberating when I found out. Even explained some of my foibles, like why I often stand when I eat (apparently a common ADD habit). It really helped me understand my own mind. That's why I don't think of it as a burden, but rather a means by which I can better know myself.

    Meanwhile, my mother is the most ADD of us all! ;) Calls my brother by the dog's name, can never find her phone, left her reading glasses in the freezer... and that's just scratching the surface. It runs in the family, but with it comes loads of creativity. I wouldn't trade it!

  6. That's wonderful about not trading, Dan. Your mother sounds a bit like my mom, but we didn't have a dog so she called each of us 8 kids by the other's name. Now if only more schools can find a way to teach and reach kids with ADD and bring out the best in them; especially their self confidence.

  7. Thanks everyone for your kind comments and the great conversation. Dan - its so great you were able to learn things about yourself! That's the biggest battle, I think.

  8. Really interesting stuff, Annie. I love that Bethanie related so well to the process of writing. Story is the muse; process is the method :)

  9. That is so true, soulsubsistence. And when you read Amie's and Bethanie's book, Cinderskelly, you will be even more impressed.