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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.

Want to be an advocate for your child? Read "10 Ways You Can Advocate for Your Child with a Learning Disability" at http://www.ldperspectives.com/freeinfo.6.asp .

For more up-to-date plain talk about learning disabilities, please visit us at www.ldperspectives.com.

About the Author

Sandy Gauvin is a retired educator who has seen learning disabilities from many perspectives - as the parent of a daughter with learning disabilities, as the teacher of children with learning disabilities, and as an advocate for others who have diagnosed and unrecognized learning disabilities. Sandy shares her wisdom and her resources at www.LDPerspectives.com.

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