What is a learning disability? Finally, someone had asked me this over the weekend. I was happy that someone had the courage to ask me such an important question, but I was mostly surprised that I did not know how to answer them.
I will be honest, when I share with people my story and tell them what I do, I get a lot of compassion and admiration but I always sensed some kind of confusion. Learning disability (LD) is a compound word discussed often but rarely understood. Heck, I did not know what a learning disability was myself until I began my studies in education and dove deeper into understanding the way people learn information.
What is a Learning Disability?
For years, professionals have been debating on a clear cut definition of a learning disability. The definition I use, is a neurological disorder that impacts a person's acquisition and use of language, reading, writing, speaking, reasoning and math skills ( Hammil, Leigh, McNutt & Larsen 1981) A simpler way to understand LD is learning differently, essential it means those with LD their brains are wired differently and therefore process information different from the average individual.
LD are not a visible disability, therefore it is not always evident that someone may be experiencing difficulties. In fact, main cases can go undiagnosed for years. As well as the symptoms are not always evident and can be mistaken for laziness, careless or lack of effort in students. As science and technology advance researchers are able to examine brain function more in depth and expand our knowledge on neuroscience in regards to learning. There is no cure for LD. Currently preventative and intervention are the two main methods to help students. It is a common misconception that those with LDhave lower intelligence, this FALSE and far from the truth. Individuals with LD are of average or above average intelligence, in fact, LD are the most common disability amongst individuals today. On Average 3-4 students have a LD in a class.
How Do Students Get Help?
As mentioned, there is no cure for LD. Students with LD are provided assistance through intervention or prevention. If an LD is detected early in a child methods of prevention may be used in order to prevent the condition from further developing. In most cases, various methods of intervention are provided. Remedial programs, one on one instruction, support accommodation, or assistive technology etc. are some examples of ways intervention is used to help support students. It is important to note that, while educators and schools do their best to assist all students, these services are not obligated for all students and only those with an Individual Education Pan (IEP)/ Individual Program Plan (IPP) will have priority access to these supports and services.
How to Help Someone You Love
Everyone should be treated with love, compassion, and kindness. Supporting someone with an LD can be a challenge, but also be aware it is a hard to challenge for them learning to understand and cope with their learning challenges. Here are a few tips to help navigate your love one to success:
- Have patience
- Use analogies when explaining information and K.I.S.S ( Keep It Simple Silly)
- Be informed – Know your rights (as a parent/ guardian) and the students
- Seek help from a professional
As the human mind can be complex, but it does not mean learning disabilities have to be a complicated topic. I vow to share my knowledge with you to help everyone achieve success. We are on this journey together. There are #NoLimits to what you can achieve
P.S. Mom and Dad, if you want more information on how to support your child with a LD join me in Kingston April 29, 2017, at the SpeakUp4Ability forum.