What is a learning disability? A learning disability (LD) is a neurobiological condition that affects the way individuals of average to above average intelligence receive, process, or express information. LD negatively impacts the ability to acquire basic skills of listening, speaking, thinking, reading, spelling, writing, and/or mathematics.
Each individual with a learning disability is unique and the disability manifests itself in varying combinations and degrees of difficulty. Often, the individual with a learning disability demonstrates uneven areas of ability and has a gap between his/her potential and actual achievement.
Commonly Known Types of Learning Disabilities Learning Disability Area of Impact Symptoms Dyslexia Oral and Written Language Difficulty with listening, speaking, reading, and writing; Sees letters or words reversed; Sees letters or words transposed; Omits letters or words when reading DyscalculiaMath Difficulty performing calculations; Difficulty with numbers; Spatial problems; Difficulty placing numbers into vertical columns. DysgraphiaWriting Illegible handwriting; Difficulty writing within a defined space; Letter reversals; Letter transposition; Omission of letters or words; Poor spelling Dyspraxia Body Coordination Problems with muscle control and coordination; Apparent clumsiness.
Commonly Known Types of Learning Disabilities Learning Disability Area of ImpactSymptoms Sensory Processing PerceptionPeople with SPD misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement. They may feel bombarded by information, they may seek out intense sensory experiences, or they may have other symptoms. Specific Learning Disability Oral and/or written language, math, reading, writing, and perception Difficulty understanding or using language, whether written or spoken; Imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, read, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
Myths about students with LD Myth: Individuals with LD have limited potential. Truth: Individuals with LD conduct successful and fulfilling lives just as individuals without disabilities do.
Myths About Students with LD Myth: LD is just a polite way to refer to lower overall intelligence and abilities. Truth: Inherent within the definition of LD is a discrepancy between demonstrated intelligence and specific functioning. It is possible for a student to be both gifted and learning disabled at the same time.
Myths About Students with LD Myth: People with LD are lazy. Truth: If an individual with a LD has experienced repeated failures, particularly educationally or socially, they often shut down and believe it hurts less to not try than it does to try and fail. The individual may feel he/she has no control over what happens to her/him which is known as learned helplessness. Small doses of success are the best antidote to learned helplessness.
Myths About Students with LD Myth: Students with LD do not have to work any harder than other students. Truth: Most students with LD do have to work harder than the average student to achieve success.
Myths about students with LD Myth: Given proper instruction, individuals with LD can grow out it. Truth: Although individuals with LD can and do acquire improved skills, the LD themselves are not cured in the process. Some types of LD can be successfully and permanently remediated but others are thought to be lifelong and may require the acquisition and use of compensatory strategies or accommodations throughout the individual's life span.
Myths About Students with LD Myth: Accommodations provided to students with LD, particularly during testing situations, gives them an unfair advantage over students without disabilities. Truth: An accommodation does not tip the scales in the student's favor; it merely levels the playing field.
Myths about students with LD Myth: Accommodating the needs of a student with LD means watering down course and program requirements. Truth: Teaching a student with special learning needs does not mean "less." It may, however, mean "different." The instructional goal should be to find ways to work around the area of deficit and still impart the same body of information and sets of skills.
LD Study 2003 What skills do these individuals most likely have ? −Strong Problem solving ability −Strong Critical thinking skills −Ability to establish goals −Able to reframe what is not working.
What is Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD) AD/HD, once called hyperkinesis (e.g., super active) or minimal brain dysfunction, has a very strong neurological basis and is one of the most common disorders of childhood and adolescence. It is characterized by hyperactive or impulsive behaviors and attention-deficit problems that cannot be explained by any other psychiatric condition and are not in keeping with the individual’s intellectual ability or stage of development.
Subtypes of AD/HD The DSM-IV TR describes three subtypes of AD/HD: −Inattentive—Cannot seem to get focused or stay focused on a task or activity −Hyperactive/Impulsive—Very active and often acts without thinking −Combined—Inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive
Myths about students with AD/HD Myth: AD/HD does not really exist. It is simply the latest excuse for parents who do not discipline their children. Truth: Scientific research tells us AD/HD is a biologically based disorder that includes distractibility, impulsiveness, and sometimes hyperactivity.
Myths about students with AD/HD Myth: Medication can cure students with AD/HD. Truth: Medicine cannot cure AD/HD but can sometimes temporarily moderate its effects. Certain stimulant medications are effective in the majority of the individuals who take it, providing an immediate short-term increase in attention, control, concentration, and goal-directed effort. Medication may also reduce disruptive behaviors, aggression, and hyperactivity.
Myths about students with AD/HD Myth: Individuals with AD/HD will outgrow it. Truth: AD/HD is a lifelong condition although it manifests itself differently dependent upon the age of the individual. Some individuals −experience a lessening of AD/HD symptoms with age, −develop effective compensatory strategies that make it appear as if the AD/HD has gone away, or −manage the symptoms of the disorder with medication.
Myths about students with AD/HD Myth: Individuals who can focus their attention in some areas (i.e., video games, etc.) cannot have AD/HD. Truth: AD/HD is a neurological difference that makes it very difficult to attend to things that are not interesting to the person involved or that require sustained mental effort. Yet this person can sit for hours and play video games or participate in other activities of interest. This type of focus is known as hyperfocus.
Universal Design of Learning (UDL) Universal design is an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit people of all learning styles without adaptation. Universal design provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information. Although this design enables the student to be self- sufficient, the teacher is responsible for imparting knowledge and facilitating the learning process. Universal design does not remove academic challenges; it removes barriers to access.
UDL UDL does not replace an individual’s right to specific accommodation It creates a more inclusive environment It is beneficial for students with and without disabilities including ESL/ELL learners It provides ready access to a variety of accommodations. Learn more about UDL at:
The greatest barrier individuals with disabilities have faced for decades and continue to face today is that of attitudinal barriers.