Quoting Quiverfull: No True ‘Learning Disabled’ Children in Homeschooling?

by Mary Pride from her site Homeschooling World – Learning Disabilities: Fact or Fiction?

As usual, PHS is not content to straddle the fence. After years of studying this issue—and years of raising nine children, two of whom at least would qualify for a public-school “LD” label—we have reached the following conclusions:


  1. There is no reason, except for getting government grants, for using the term “learning disability.” The term exists to shift responsibility for a child’s scholastic failures from the school and parents to the child’s DNA.
  2. By definition learning “disabilities” have no physical origin. Real learning problems have actual medical names, such as “brain damage” or “Down’s Syndrome.” So you can’t really blame the DNA anyway.
  3. What one person calls a “disability” could just as readily often be called a “gift.” Picture the difference between, “What an energetic little boy you have!” and, “Oh, that boy of yours is hyperactive.” Or between, “Janie has Attention Deficit Disorder,” and, “Janie is such a thinker!”
  4. More important than labeling is what are you going to do about your child’s slowness or distractibility?
  5. The first step towards solving a problem is getting a correct diagnosis—as opposed to a responsibility-shifting “label.” “Jimmy is disobedient” leads to entirely different parental responses than “Jimmy has ADHD.” “Suzy has poor visual perception” requires a different line of treatment than “Suzy is an LD child.”

Comments open below


QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


About Suzanne Calulu
  • Lana

    Wow. I guess this way you don’t have to face sending your kids to trained teachers. I’d never heard this to be honest. My mom regularly told me I had learning disabilities.

  • NeaDods

    Real learning problems have actual medical names, such as “brain damage” or “Down’s Syndrome.”

    ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc., are actual medical names with actual medical diagnosis. And way to go, Pride, lumping in someone who is, say, dyslexic with someone who has *a literally damaged brain.* That isn’t shaming or degrading in the least!

    The first step towards solving a problem is getting a correct diagnosis—as opposed to a responsibility-shifting “label.” “Jimmy is disobedient” leads to entirely different parental responses than “Jimmy has ADHD.”

    Of course, if Jimmy actually DOES have ADHD, calling him disobedient and whipping him may be an entirely different parental response, but it’s not actually the right course of action!

    Anecdata: Beating dyslexic boys isn’t going to make reading any easier for them, it’s only going to train them that they are stupid and that reading is to be feared and shunned. My father and brother are both dyslexic – my father, who was dropped into schooling over his head and wholloped through, doesn’t read for pleasure to this day. My brother, who fulfilled Pride’s requirement to have “a correct diagnosis” also got her requirement to have an “entirely different parental response” than to, say, the family member whose brain was literally stopped in its development by meningitis.** Brother got my parents pushing back against school teachers calling him lazy or stupid. That and private training is what my parents did, Ms. Pride, and the result is that Brother is still dsylexic, but also loves to read.

    And of course, in the usual rush to lump all secular solutions as wrong and bad, the aptly named Pride assumes that in the real world, nearsightedness is classed as a learning disability – whereas the reality, as I know very well myself, is a lot closer to “Nea consistently understands what’s said to her but cannot follow what’s written on the board. Have you had her eyes checked?” not “Nea can’t follow in class, therefore she’s disabled.”

    ** People who avoid vaccines because they fear “catching autism” from the shots ought to know that it is perfectly possible to “catch” learning disabilities from the diseases the vaccines prevent… preferably before the child becomes permanently stuck at the developmental and mental age they got meningitis. (Obligatory disclaimer: My family didn’t deny the vaccine to its injured member; the vaccine did not exist at the time.)

  • persephone

    I’m sure my stepfather had dyslexia, but the only treatment when he was a child was to punish him. He also does not read for pleasure.

  • AlisonCummins

    Pride seems to be really unclear as to what a disability is and why correct diagnosis is useful. She seems to think that if a child is labelled “disabled” then we will all cheerfully give up on them and wave away any problems they encounter by blaming the disability.

    In fact, the point is to identify why someone is having difficulty so that the appropriate interventions can be used. As she correctly points out, glasses won’t help someone who’s dyslexic, though both dyslexic and visually impaired children might have difficulty reading. We’re not looking for excuses to give up on people, we want to know the best way to help each individual be the best they can be. Sometimes that’s glasses, sometimes that’s specialized reading practice.

  • Jayn

    #3 actually hits at the social model of disability, and to a certain extent it can be at work with LDs if the child is trying to learn in a situation that doesn’t take their particular abilities into account. Sometimes what is needed isn’t “try harder” but “try differently”, and a lot of people do homeschool because the public options in their area can’t or won’t handle their child appropriately.

    The whole thing feels like a semantics war though. I’m not sure if she’s saying that LDs don’t exist, or that they do and the LD label is a useless catchall term (proper identification is of course important to dealing with them). She says we shouldn’t be labelling our kids, but then says we need to make sure we have a proper diagnosis, which is a label as well, just one that’s more specific and thus more helpful to dealing with the problem at hand. I can’t fully figure out what her point is with any certainty.

  • Nightshade

    Number 4 actually does make sense up to a point. Exact labeling may not be as important as what one does for a child, but figuring out what to do is going to be difficult if not impossible if you don’t know what is wrong, and I’m saying that as an ex-ADHD and (still) dyslexic. Love, or devotion to doing ‘what’s right’ can be misguided, and is not always enough.

  • brbr2424

    What a sanctimonious twit. Mary Pride is insufferable.

  • brbr2424

    I also have three generations of dyslexics, father, sister and son. It’s an oversimplification but I’ll say dyslexics end up in prison or CEOs depending upon whether the learning disability was recognized and treated. I’m thankful my 8th grader has received assistance and accommodation throughout, and he loves school.

    Mary Pride is missing the empathy bone. I am skeptical that any of her children had a learning disability and if it doesn’t exist in her family, it doesn’t exist anywhere.

    Mary Pride was a child prodigy and benefited from high quality public education. She has advanced degrees in engineering. Genetics are what they are and her children inherited her genes. Ironically, she is advising families without the intellectual abilities and with little education, to homeschool their not as bright children based on Mary’s own success. Mary Pride could have been CEO of Yahoo or ebay if she hadn’t decided to start a cult. Mary Pride is the Rush Limbaugh of the homeschooling world. She’s making out like a bandit being bombastic and inflaming feeble minded followers.

  • brbr2424

    Healthy people who don’t vaccinate themselves are called “freeloaders” by the medical community. They are freeloading on the collective immunity of the population, because most everyone else vaccinates as an act of good citizenship. When a bunch of freeloaders get together, say at a church of freeloaders, an outbreak occurs. This just happened at a church in Texas where there is now an outbreak of Smallpox.

  • brbr2424

    You are being too charitable in giving her the benefit of the doubt. I read that she is saying that learning disabilities don’t exist unless they can be attributed to a physical source like nearsightedness and an inability to actually see the word on paper. This is a common belief amongst the angry Tea Party folk as well. It is common amongst people that want public education eliminated altogether. She does indeed think the kid should just “try harder” and “stop being lazy”.

    That also is one of the few reasons I would have considered homeschooling. That and if the child is gay and would be bullied. In the 1970s we moved to a rural NJ school and my dyslexic sister was placed in the special class with the Downs syndrome kids. That was a devastating blow that she has never quite recovered from. She was moved out after a few months but if your child is not thriving in public school, homeschooling is an option.

  • Lynn

    It’s measles, actually. Smallpox would be a global emergency, and there’s no routine vax for it anymore.

  • NeaDods

    My father is fairly certain that his father was also dyslexic, but there wasn’t even a word for it back then. It seems to run down the Y line. He’s not resentful of the way he was raised; his parents did the best they could. He just wanted to do that tiny bit better for the next generation — and now there was a word for it.

  • NeaDods

    Random off-topic comment: I actually own a smallpox vaccine, although it has long since turned rancid, I’m sure. It was never meant for use; Salk sold some as souvenirs to other doctors. It’s signed!

  • Trollface McGee

    1. Teaching kids with LD or other disabilities is expensive and often requires additional resources. Schools are already underfunded, but of course, kids getting adequate resources in schools is some communist Nazi socialist plot to make them all broccoli lovers.
    2. Few things have either strictly a physical or psychological origin. The anxiety that someone with hypochondria is very real even if there is no physical basis for it. Some learning disorders have very real brain structural issues, some are products of trauma or anxiety – either way, they negatively impact learning and that’s at issue.
    3. While there is a problem with the overdiagnosis of certain disorders, there is also a problem with parents denying that their child has significant problems. A kid with actual ADHD is much more than just “energetic” and while they may have gifts, often times their issues keep them realising their true potential.
    4-5. Yes, the response is more important than the label but if you don’t know whether the reason a child isn’t paying attention is poor vision, ADHD or depression, you won’t be able to respond appropriately.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    She should visit the childrens residential therapy community I work at. She can’t be serious in thinking things like ADHD, PTSD, Autism, Reactive Attachment DIsorder and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome kids are caused by labeling or permissiveness. It is incredibly expensive and takes an entire team working together to come up with an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) that benefits that particular child’s challenges. No amount of wishful thinking and homeschooling fixes those things.

  • Theo Darling

    Oh for fucks sake.
    I have a lot of things to say about this but AAAUGH. The short version is that my youngest brother, homeschooled forever, has struggled all his life with learning disabilities, and he’s definitely smart but his learning process is different and sometimes harder, and it was only when he got diagnosed with an actual real thing that he stopped hating himself and feeling stupid. My own (suspected) attention-deficit stuff is a lot milder than his, but I can definitely relate because I had a similar experience regarding mental illness diagnoses. Even just becoming aware that you’re not the only one, that your condition is not some space-alien crap, and that there are things you can do to work with (instead of against) yourself, that is AMAZING and can make a huge difference, not just in self-image and emotional stability but also in motivation and performance.
    Also what the hell, Down Dyndrome isn’t genetic? LOOK I LEARNED SOMETHING whoops guess disabilities don’t exist.

  • Hannah

    I don’t even know how to address this. It’s like saying “differently abled” instead of “disabled”. Obnoxious and just false. Dyslexia isn’t just “having a hard time reading”. It is literally, biologically reading letters out of order. I have a friend who had to give up on med school because she couldn’t pass one of her Chemistry classes due to then-undiagnosed dyslexia. A cousin of mine had to have hours of tutoring daily to make it through high school… and she had been homeschooled up until then! She went to public school because a) my aunt recognized she didn’t know all the HS subjects well enough to teach them and b) aunt recognized that she didn’t have the resources to give her the help she needed.

    My nephew has learning disabilities without a diagnosis. Shocking, I know. But all kinds of things can go wrong with the mind. His problem? His epilepsy medication slowed him down for several years before they found the right combo, and now he’s playing catch-up. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a disability. Not having a “real name” or whatever your arbitrary rules are doesn’t mean his problems aren’t real.

    Lots of things were thought not to be real until recently. I have a chronic illness that would have been brushed off a generation ago. Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have killed me 50 years ago. She seems to think brain damage and Downs are the only “real” ones because they’re obvious and severe. News flash lady, it doesn’t have to be obvious OR severe to be real. This kind of thinking hocks me off.

  • brbr2424

    My father is 82 and the word for it was “not applying himself”. He lived in Quebec and had to pass french to graduate from high school. It took him two extra years. He was also relieved that there was a name for it when his daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia by a pioneering researcher back in the 1960s.

    My son will take American sign language to meet the college requirement for two years of language. No spelling or breaking down sounds required.

  • brbr2424

    Consider selling it on ebay if you are looking to part with it.

  • brbr2424

    I think she would concede the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome but not the rest. I’m sure she has no interest in exposing herself to anyone or anywhere that conflicts with the dystopia she has created. She is a bright woman and showed such promise early on. A mind really is a terrible thing to waste and Mary Pride is a living example of that.

  • brbr2424

    I told my son when he was six that he was dyslexic. It was pretty clear to me even before he was tested. Given the genetic predisposition, it was pretty clear. That doesn’t make dealing with it any easier but he is in eighth grade and he totally owns it. Self knowledge is power.

  • derickrae

    My son hit 7th grade and failed, failed, failed. Poor kid was a ball of anxiety and depression. Then he finally received his ADD diagnosis and he was a different kid. He’s not stupid and now he knows it. He told me that he knows school will be hard but real life, after school will be great. There’s a reason he drops off mid-task. He no longer beats himself up when I remind him to finish his chores. She obviously has no idea what it is like to have a learning disability. (BTW-8th grade, so far, with new helps in place is all A’s and B’s!)

  • Kristen Rosser

    She says not to use a “label” but instead a “correct diagnosis.” And then she says “Jimmy is disobedient” is a diagnosis? That’s the worst label of the lot, and with no explanation for it. Why is Jimmy not doing as he’s told? Maybe he’s not able to process the instructions in the same way other kids do. But no– that possibility can’t be allowed to exist.

    This is a recipe for child abuse.

  • Simon Bransby

    This lady needs to go boil her head. I have dealt with learning disabilities all my life, and though I did get SOME help, I was still punished for them at home, and by other kids and teachers. I have ADD, Asperger’s, Audio Processing problems, and Executive Processing glitches. (meaning that if I can’t SEE you talking to me, the sounds sometimes don’t match up and I get gibberish or nothing coming through, I can’t decide what to do next without practice, and I can’t tell what you want from me unless you explain precisely what it is and how it needs to be done. Yeah, school was a nightmare!) What if Pride’s kids had any of these issues and they had not the vocabulary nor permission to tell her they were having trouble like mine?! I got punished for admitting that I didn’t understand homework; what would happen to HER kids?

  • Madame

    “Jimmy is disobedient” is a diagnosis? That’s the worst label of the lot

    Yes. Because we all know what happens to disobedient children in the households of people who read Mary Pride.

  • http://volunteer11.blogspot.com/ VollyfromtheBlog

    Wish I’d known it in 7th grade. It would have made a vast amount of difference to me in college, in relationships…everywhere. And if my poor late father had known, he wouldn’t have beat himself up his entire life for being “bad” or “dumb” and dropping out of an unresponsive school system in the 1930s. Okay, we (maybe) had the excuse back then of not understanding the brain better, but anyone in THIS day and age who falls back on that “beat it out of them” mentality ought to be jailed and their kids taken away.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    There’s a man in my church, in his sixties, who has dyslexia. His mother recognized what he was dealing with, somehow (I’m not sure how well understood the condition would have been in rural Iowa in the 1950s), and she worked with him. Evidently one of the things that she knew helped some people was putting a colored overlay over print. Somehow that works well for some people who have dyslexia. To this day, when he is serving as worship leader, he will sometimes have his papers in a blue page slick. He is a successful contractor and is very intelligent. That may not have happened without someone recognizing that he had a learning disability and helping him learn how to work with and around it.

  • Saraquill

    F*ck you, Mary Pride.

    *ahem* I have multiple LDs, and I’ve been made to feel subhuman and utterly worthless because of them. On top of that, I’ve plenty of people say to my face that I’m lucky that I get accommodations (the same way people in wheelchairs are lucky to be off of their feet,) or out and out refuse to believe me.

    I’M NOT MAKING IT UP when I’m struggling to add up numbers and they refuse to make sense. I’m NOT being lazy when my handwriting causes me physical pain and the letters look like nonsense. I really hate it when my troubles are dismissed by the willfully ignorant.

  • NeaDods

    I’ve thought about it, but after the robbery, it’s actually one of the few family heirlooms I have left. My grandfather was the doctor who got it.

  • stairway to heaven

    My son has a type of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Very bright but struggles in social situations and is self conscious of poor motor skills. I believe my father was dyslexic and he relied a great deal on my mother in the family business. A true egalitarian marriage.