Just What Is a Learning Disability, Anyway?Written by Sandy Gauvin
A learning disability is defined as a permanent problem that affects a person with average to above average intelligence, in way that he/she receives, stores, and processes information.
There are many wrong ideas out there about learning disabilities.
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 problem. For example, kids who have trouble taking notes in class, like Michele did, can record class on audiotape. Or, other students can make copies of notes they have taken for them. The teacher can makes copies notes they are lecturing from. Or, when notes are written down on an overhead transparency during lecture, they can be copied after class and given to student.
For children who have trouble reading, tapes of many of textbooks are made available through publishing companies. At one school where I taught, volunteers did taping. We also used tapes that were recorded by a company called Recordings for Blind.
2) A person with a learning disability has a low IQ.
Again, not true. In order for a person to have a learning disability, they have to have an average or better IQ. There are many people who, although they intelligent, just cannot learn as well as their IQ suggests they should. Iíve told my students for a long time that having a learning disability is really a compliment because it means that they are very smart! But, since a negative by-product of a learning disability is often low self-esteem, they didnít always believe me.
Remember: self-esteem issue is as important to deal with as learning disability itself!
3)A person with a learning disability is just lazy.
There has to be a reason why person with LD doesnít learn way he should. Perhaps his brain doesnít process information right way. He may process information much slower than other people. Or he may not be able to process what he sees effectively. Some people canít process what they hear as well as what they see. Other people canít remember information unless itís repeated again and again, and some people have real trouble getting information out of that filing system they have in their brain.
Details, Details, DetailsWritten by Sandy Gauvin
I have a dear friend who, as our Consulting Resource Teacher, does much of special education testing in our school district. Recently, I asked her what information teachers can give to help her know exactly what to look for in each child she tests.
This is what she told me:
Most of teachers do a wonderful job with referral forms. However, it is NOT helpful to me when a teacher writes, "... is below grade level in reading," or "... is not working up to his potential in math." This is too general. I like it when a teacher gives me specifics such as, "The child...
a. ...cannot follow more than a two-step direction." b. ... seems to know his sight words one day, but then next day, it's like he's never seen them before." c. ... is easily distracted." d. ... has a very short attention span, especially when it comes to his written work, but during show and tell or read-aloud, he's very attentive." e. ... seems to have a better visual than verbal memory." f. ... does not know letter names, but when given name and asked to point to them, he is able to do so (It could be numbers instead of letters). g. ... is well liked and has many friends (or opposite)." h. ... functions best in morning (or afternoon)." i. ... understands what he reads very well." j. ... contributes a great deal of information during class time."
The more detail teacher can give me better.
a. Does he notice number and letter reversals, inversions, etc.? b. Can she follow print? c. Does he get mixed up when doing addition or subtraction on an unlined piece of paper? d. Does she rub her eyes, squint, turn her head to one side or other?
This is all helpful information.