Just What Is A Learning Disability?


A learning disability is defined as a permanent problem
that affects a person with average to above average
intelligence, in the way that he/she receives, stores,
and processes information.

There are many wrong ideas out there about
learning disabilities. For example:

1) A learning disability will go away in time.
Unfortunately, this is not true. The good news is, you can
learn ways to get around the problem. For example, kids who
have trouble taking notes in class, like Michele did, can
record the class on audiotape. Other students can make copies
of the notes they have taken for them. The teacher can make
copies of the notes they are lecturing from. Or, when the notes
are written on an overhead transparency during the lecture,
they can be copied after class and given to the student.

For children who have trouble reading, tapes of many of the
textbooks are made available through the publishing companies.
At one school where I taught volunteers did the taping.
We also used tapes that were recorded by a company called
Recordings for the Blind.

2) A person with a learning disability has a low IQ.
Again – not true. A person with a learning disability has
an average or better IQ. There are many people who are very
smart, but for some reason, they cannot learn as well as their
IQ suggests they should. I tell my students that having a
learning disability is really a compliment because it means
that they are very smart! Unfortunately, because a negative
by-product of a learning disability is often low self-esteem
they don’t always believe me. So remember, the self-esteem
issue is as important to deal with as the learning
disability itself!

3) A person with a learning disability is just lazy.
There has to be a reason why the person with LD doesn’t learn
the way he should. Perhaps his brain doesn’t process the
information the right way. He may process information much
slower than other people. Or he may not process what he sees effectively. Some people can’t process what they hear as well
as what they see. Other people can’t remember information unless
it’s repeated again and again, and some people have real trouble getting the information out of that filing system they have in
their brain. Typically people with learning disabilities
work harder than others – but with lesser results. It’s not
about hard work – it’s a learning disability.

4) A person with a learning disability can’t do anything right.
Even though a child may have a learning disability in one or
two areas, it doesn’t mean they can’t do anything right.
My daughter struggled with a disability in math, but what a
wonderful writer she is! And she has more knowledge about how
to get around a computer than many people have – I envy that
ability because I think I have a learning disability in
that area! I’ve known students who, even though they struggled
with math or reading, were excellent around heavy equipment or automobile engines or carpentry or drafting. Many could do
things with a computer that seemed impossible.

The important thing is that, if your child has a learning
disability, or even if you suspect he might have one, learn
everything you can so that you will know what to expect and
what not to expect from him as well as from his teachers and
his educational program. That way you will be able to
understand and help him in the best way possible.

While none of us wishes our child to have a learning disability,
if he or she does, recognizing and dealing with that fact is the
intelligent approach to take. It’s only when we recognize the
truth about our child’s condition, that we can learn how to
maximize his or her abilities and minimize their dis-abilities.

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