by Bruce Jenner
I am thrilled that I will be the keynote speaker this fall at CHADD’s 20th Annual International Conference on AD/HD. I have long been a big supporter of CHADD.
When I was growing up in the 1950s, there was no national organization working to raise awareness about people with different learning styles. Back then children with special needs failed in school, dropped out, or squeaked through with terrible self-esteem.
I struggled early on in elementary school. After going through testing, I was told by school officials that I had dyslexia. (I also struggled a great deal with attention issues, but AD/HD was not on anyone’s radar at the time.) Knowing I had dyslexia did me no good, however, because I was sent back to class with the expectation that I would do well without accommodations.
It should come as no surprise that my troubles in school began to take a toll on my self-esteem. Then something miraculous happened in fifth grade. I participated in a race and won. I was the fastest kid in my class! I had found what I call my “little arena,” and my self-esteem began to improve.
I often tell people that struggling with dyslexia has been my greatest gift. If I had been average, doing fine in school, I wouldn’t have needed sports. There was always that little dyslexic kid in the back of my mind who was going to out work the next guy.
I look forward to talking about my life experiences at CHADD’s conference. My hope is that attendees will hear my story and walk away with a better understanding of how they can build self-esteem by finding their own “little arenas.” I hope to see you there!
Bruce Jenner won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. His willingness to talk about his own struggles with a learning disability has helped shape how society views learning disabilities and mental disorders.
CHADD’s International Conference on AD/HD will be held this year from November 12-15 in Anaheim, California. Registration begins in June.