Top Things Teachers Wish You Knew About Learning Disabilities
There are many types of Learning Disabilities
When you hear learning disabilities you probably think of students that have difficulties with reading, writing, or math—and that might mean dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia respectively. However, learning disabilities are neurological processing problems that take many forms and can be manifested in hearing (auditory processing disorder), speaking (language processing disorder), and weakness in such areas as eye-hand coordination and interpreting nonverbal cues. Learning disabilities cannot be cured, but with proper intervention and support, those with learning disabilities can succeed in school, in their careers, and in life.
Learning disabilities affect everyone
Learning disabilities are the most prevalent condition covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that provides the framework for special education. Out of the 6.5 million children receiving special education services in U.S. schools, approximately 2.3 million children have been diagnosed with a learning disability. They are not generally treatable by medicine and you do not grow out of a learning disability. Those with learning disabilities tend to have average to above average intelligence, yet 20 percent of students with a learning disability drop out of school.
Schools don’t know how to teach kids with dyslexia
There is a long running disagreement on the best way to teach reading—whole language or phonics. Whole language exposes kids to books by reading to them, exciting them about books and their reading skills will develop. Phonics teaches kids how to break down letters and letter combinations into sounds and words in order to develop the building blocks of reading. While whole language was the standard approach for the past half-century, new studies have demonstrated that phonics produce better results in children with dyslexia. Higher education has been slow to adopt a phonics-based curriculum, thus many school teachers have little training in phonics-based approaches.
You can advocate for your child
Parents who suspect their child may have a learning disability should reach out to their school for assistance. The law requires public schools to respond to parents who request that their children be evaluated for a learning disability. There are very real obstacles for most school districts to respond quickly to these requests–personnel shortages, a backlog of evaluation requests, and budgetary issues, just to note a few. Be polite, but be persistent with your school. If you encounter resistance seek the assistance of an advocate or attorney. You may also obtain a private evaluation of your child if necessary.
Successful people have learning disabilities
While people do not grow out of a learning disability, many learn strategies to deal with their disability and become very successful. There are countless examples of lawyers, professional athletes and even political figures with learning disabilities. Although they have excelled in their chosen careers, it is crucial to remember that they deal with their disability everyday. Some struggle reading large volumes of paperwork, others have difficulty memorizing a playbook, and some depend on a personal assistant to stay on schedule. Their success is an inspiration for children to be persistent and not let the challenges of a learning disability stop their growth.
Encourage and support your child
No matter how hard a child with learning disabilities tries or what rewards or penalties are set up, without the right approaches designed to address the disability, reading or writing, or even tying a shoe, can be demoralizing. Many parents regret what they thought and how they acted toward their child before they knew the child had a learning disability. Remember you are you child's best advocate and defender. Their success depends on your support to reach their goal and your encouragement to keep trying even when they fail.
If you have questions about your child's learning disability, please contact us at Exceptional Learners to schedule a free consultation.