Personality Guides Diversity


Currently type related articles, internet posts, Chapter groups and type practitioners are asking the following question “Is there a correlation between certain types and a cognitive processing issue or a learning disability ?” For example it is often asked if ESTP’s may be diagnosed more often with ADHD than other types or if INTP’s are more likely to be diagnosed or more importantly misdiagnosed with Aspergers or the often misunderstood NVLD ( non verbal learning disability), more than other types.

Often individuals juggle their learning, memory or processing concerns while their natural type preferences can sometimes mask, sometimes exacerbate or even help overcome a diverse cognitive learning concern. At times our individual typology may bring characteristics that mirror cognitive risk characteristics thus compounding the diagnostic process and often leading to misdiagnosis. We might see that the exuberance of an extrovert has often been misinterpreted as hyperactivity and the complexity of an extreme introvert (I) coupled with a consuming passion for studying nothing but tree frogs could lead an unsuspecting practitioner to begin a discussion about Asperger’s Syndrome or NVLD.

Conversely type preferences can offer a foil to the factors that make the exceptional need a challenge. For example the diligence and organizational skills of an ISTJ could dramatically assist when attention concerns are in evidence. A young type practitioner explains “ I have strong rooted rules to help govern and self-manage my ADHD that disguise it to the point I am ADD… there are signs that make me look like an N or a P but they are not my comfort nor preference. I need order, organization, pattern, structure in my life, being a creature of routine is my preference..” The ISTJ gifts can temper the severity of the attention concern resulting in assistance being withheld even confusing an unsuspecting practitioner to downplay the severity of this individuals attention struggles. The diligence and organizational skills of the ISTJ dramatically assists attention concerns however the factors still exist and are no less troublesome for individual living with the diagnosis. Frustration may in fact be more significant as the outside world asks how this individual can in fact suffer from some complications from attention issues.

When we observe type in combination with many other cognitive risk factors we immediately notice type may at times temper, modify or even alleviate some of the at risk factors managing to diminish some of the more debilitating aspects of those diverse learning characteristics “Introversion and an avid, consuming interest in activities, such as mathematics and computers, for example, could prompt an uninformed clinician to misdiagnose a gifted child or adult as having Asperger’s Disorder. Both have an inward focus, but a child who is merely an introvert will be aware of, and capable of, changing his focus. (Webb pg 101) With beginning readers we know that often Sensing types (S) get behind in school almost instantly because of their natural tendency to be accurate, tackling one word at a time never skimming, often not using context clues or phrasing techniques. Intuitive (N) types get ahead instantly because of their ability to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of getting on with reading. N is associated with comprehension, inferred meaning and abstract concepts rather than the S’s practical, seeing all the facts, never missing a detail approach to reading. When learning to read little S’s remain on word one or two of the story, waiting for the teacher to help with word three, while N’s have read only half the words but understand the story is about a dog, instantly moving to depth of understanding. Without an understanding of typology an unsuspecting educator or parent might misinterpret the S’s need for accuracy as inability to learn to read fluently. These characteristics stay with learners through school and post- secondary classes especially when writing exams. When addressing test taking skills or exam preparation with pre-college or college students this an excellent place to begin a discussion when helping them cope with the complexity of examinations. It is essential to understand how each type and any one of a multitude of cognitive diverse learning characteristics influence each other.

Each type has mirrored or was overpowered by an exceptional processing characteristic at one time or another. Many, many individuals with EP or N in their preferences have been known to mistakenly ask if they might have memory processing difficulties and most individuals with ADD or ADHD will ask for memory assistance or that medication that assists memory. The stereo type of the gifted athlete who would never be accused of being a good student could easily have its roots in the combination of a visual speed processing difficulty combined with a number of divergent personality characteristics that could cause no end of trouble.

It is important to study the interplay of any number of a multitude of learning issues ie. ( ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, NVLD, Visual, Auditory or Motor Learning Disabilities, Visual & Auditory Speed issues etc. etc. etc) with individual TYPE preferences. As in the area of IQ testing ( as only one example of many), we as educators need not be proud of the gains made to change school systems. Often educators and especially our educational institutions have not kept pace with the changing minds of our students. When we consider the issue of changing brains we must acknowledge that not only will students display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, an inability to regulate emotional life and a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed to support efficient learning strategies.In an attempt to minimize conformity in educational systems and maximize the use of individual differences, it is essential to understand which unique individual differences or which diverse characteristic it is most important to give deference to. In the search to honor both the individual and the structure of an organization like a school system, we are faced with the problem of accurately predicting and understanding what individuals, within the larger organization need, want or absolutely require .

Whether students have learning concerns or exhibit debilitating learning differences that cause some disruption in the learning process it is wise to seek a professional assessment from a qualified learning specialist, psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in learning concerns in the area in which you live!!!! There are often WARNING SIGNS for parents, teachers or family members to be aware of prior to seeking assistance with the diagnosis of a learning concern.These initial signs on their own seem insignificant but once a formal diagnosis is made a cluster of these observable traits may pinpoint the areas a trained diagnostician will begin.

General Observable Traits
(several characteristics might indicate further study,concern or a suggestion to seek professional expertise/opinion or an official diagnosis)

*difficulty with ideas or concepts easily mastered by most young people of the same general age or grade ( similar age, grade, school expectations abbr.AGSE)
*constantly claiming tasks are boring or consistently making what adults characterize as silly mistakes
*homework is a struggle and much more time consuming than is expected by teachers or parents or in comparison to AGSE
*may re-read materials over and over and over again
*will spend hours and hours on a 10 minute homework assignment
*reading for long periods of time seems utterly exhausting
*multiple or even 2 step directions can cause confusion
*would rather be reprimanded or even suspended from school rather than read in front of others
*will not read out loud even in the safe environment ( at home or with a tutor)
*is very articulate but will write in a much simpler style than they speak
*writing or printing may be unusually slow and laboured and at times may mix both cursive writing and printing
*doesn’t find reading pleasurable
*may be unusually upset by very small insignificant changes in routine or regular activities
*may often be very emotional about going to school
*rarely volunteers to answer in class or in a group at team meetings or even fun activities where there are many peers or others watching
*may have difficulty keeping up with quick changes in directions in athletics, dance or organized games
*may have underdeveloped eye hand coordination with movements not appearing as fluid as similar AGSE
*may demonstrate very challenging behaviour when new ideas are suggested whether in a learning situation or even in leisure activities
*may have difficulty remembering passwords, phone numbers of friends or details given by others verbally
*may be irritated by loud noises compared to peers

*a discrepancy between achievement and a much greater potential
*irregular achievement with come very high and some very low skills

*the only thing consistent in the educational / learning path is inconsistency
*delayed language development (AGSE)
*delayed or compromised long or short-term memory skills (AGSE
*awkward physicality, may stumble, trip, slow to respond or repeatedly dropping things
*is not enjoying school attendance constantly wishes to escape the formal learning situations
*may give up much more easily than peers of the same age at games, in learning situations or the acquisition of basic skills
* low frustration level when learning is not going smoothly— temper may flare easily
*shows frustration when putting ideas or feelings into words
very intelligent but progress is much slower than potential indicates
intelligent but far behind peers ( AGSE)
*may become very discouraged by seemingly insignificant adult direction or redirection
*unable to complete activities ( in school or play) or assignments within the given time frame
* may show extreme talent in one area and total disinterest in many other areas
*young children may have had chronic ear infections
*young children may have had difficulty or an inability to coordinate both sides of the body
*older students into adulthood may still have mispronunciation problems,basic skills difficulties in reading, calculating, copying, illegible handwriting, spelling and may still hold a pen or pencil very tightly
*older students may still have directional issues
* older students although very intelligent may still have trouble remembering peoples names or continue having rote memory issues well into adulthood
*older students although very intelligent may read much more slowly or acquire new learning much more slowly than their potential would predict

Of the thousands and thousands of students I have worked who have had “Learning Differences” ( Healy) for over 30+ years I don’t think that any one type correlates to the ethical and legitimate diagnosis of any learning disability, disorder, attention concern ( ADD or ADHD) or language based difficulty including Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or Dysgraphia. I do agree that traditional schools/classrooms are the antithesis of an optimum learning environment for most exceptional needs ie. perceptual speed issues, visual/ auditory memory concerns, the autistic spectrum, ADD or ADHD to name only a few. I am also dreadfully concerned about the misdiagnosis of exceptional needs ADD/ADHD being only one of many, however, I do truly believe that there does exist dramatically increasing numbers of properly diagnosed exceptional needs cases. From very solid researchers in many areas ( ie brain researchers, neuroscientists, DR’s who specialize in the area) there are some very compelling reasons given for the increase in the number of diagnosed exceptional needs cases ( especially ADHD, ADD) but there is a need to consider some essential cautions also.

Some of their reasons for an increase in all exceptional needs diagnosis are:

  • better diagnostic information/ greater depth of understanding
  • there is a strong societal expectations that students now should at the very least finish at the very least high school, if not college, to get any type of job but 50 or 60 years ago many of those same individuals would have left school much earlier to become extremely successful in careers that used their skills more effectively. Higher education and teaching style has not kept pace with a much more diverse population staying in school much longer that in previous generations.
  • over the past few decades ( brain researchers tell us) children’s minds have changed dramatically because of our fast paced,plugged in society,recreational drug use, toxins in our air, food additives, “hurry sickness” (Researcher Glick)
  • Three excellent researchers that offer a very comprehensive look at this area are ” JANE HEALY in her book ENDANGERED MINDS” and more importantly “DIFFERENT LEARNERS: Identifying, Preventing and Treating Your Child’s Learning Problems” provided a warning years ago that we now see coming true at how children’s minds are changing and why.Edward Hallowell and John Ratey have also researched extensively on ADD/ADHD. They have a theory that 5% of the population may actually have ADD/ADHD but they have coined the phrase PSEUDO ADD and they think because of environmental factors that 50 % of the population legitimately exhibits ADD/ADHD symptoms.
  • the other areas that may affect the ability to sustain attention has been with us now for a long time and that is too much TV not even mentioning computers, cell phones etc. etc. etc.
  • Stress also can dramatically affect the ability to sustain attention (Executive Functioning) and our world has become dramatically more complex and stressful thus causing interactions between stress, type and learning concerns…


Please also read the article “HURRY SICKNESS” if you would like a little more background.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *