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Educating Students With Learning Disabilities

Compiled By: Joseph J. Viscomi from various online sources.

Introduction
Most people know, or are taught, at an early age, how to process information and develop an organized plan or strategy when confronted with a problem, whether that problem is social, academic, or job related. Others find such cognitive processes quite difficult. Learning disabilities have only recently been recognized as disabilities. This neurological disorder causes difficulty in organizing information received, remembering them, and expressing information and therefore affects a person’s basic function such as reading, writing, comprehension, and reasoning. However, these students with learning disabilities can be taught effective learning strategies that will help them approach tasks more effectively. (From: Learning Strategies for Problem Learners, by Thomas Lombardi).

Information on Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities (LD) are complex disorders. They vary in their expression and in the way they impact individuals. Understanding the basic facts will enable you to help your student or to advocate for yourself as an adult with LD. Learning disabilities (LD) are real. To have a learning disability means that you are of average or above-average intelligence, and your difficulties with learning are not primarily due to sensory problems (like blindness or hearing impairment), serious emotional disturbance, cognitive challenges (like mental retardation), cultural differences or insufficient or inappropriate instruction. “Learning disabilities” are not one thing but rather a general term that refers to a group of more specific disorders in such areas as listening, reading, writing, spelling, reasoning or doing math. Most learning disabilities are unexplained (there is no known cause) and often, the effects of LD are seen throughout a person’s lifetime.

Currently, almost 2.8 million public school children (National Center for Learning Disabilities) in the US are classified as having specific learning disabilities and receive some kind of special education support. They are approximately 5% of all school-aged children in public schools. These numbers do not include children in private and religious schools or those who are home-schooled.

Learning disabilities are lifelong, and although they won’t go away, they don’t have to stop a person from setting high standards and achieving realistic goals. Learning disabilities affect every person differently, and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Sometimes people even have more than one learning disability, which Brehm Preparatory School coined the term ‘Complex Learning Disabilities’ to describe it. In addition, approximately one third of people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), which makes it difficult for them to concentrate, stay focused and sustain their attention to specific tasks.

Once a learning disability is identified, different kinds of assistance can be provided. In addition to specialized, explicit types of instruction, children with LD are entitled to have accommodations (such as extended time, readers, and note-takers) or modifications (such as abbreviated tests or alternate assignments) as appropriate. These guarantees are afforded to children with LD by law as protections against discrimination in the classroom, and are included on a child’s individualized education program (IEP).

Succeeding With Learning Disabilities
Life may change a lot for you over the next few years, but one aspect of it won’t. Even after making the transition to adulthood, it’s likely you’ll still struggle with limitations due to your learning disability. Your success will depend on how well you know your strengths and weakness, how determined you are to succeed, and whether you can develop the sets of skills you will need in order to achieve your academic, career, or personal goals. Below you’ll find some helpful ways to build the skills you need to be successful.

If your learning disability is identified before your graduate from high school, self-advocacy activities should include your active involvement in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. Getting the help you need to be successful later on at work or in post-secondary school settings will depend upon your ability to be an effective and outspoken self-advocate, and these are skills that you can and should develop as soon as possible.
 
The key to success is knowing about your leaning disability and being able to articulate what specific services and supports you need to be successful. Being an effective advocate also means that you will need to have lots of self-determination. Because once you leave high school, teachers, counselors and parents will no longer be in a position to make sure that your ongoing needs are being met. Effective self-advocacy comes from knowing yourself, valuing yourself, planning, acting, and learning from the outcomes of your actions.

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is an education plan, required by law, created for each school-age student with a disability who receives special education services through a public school. Your IEP must include current levels of academic performance and educational goals, as well as a discussion of how future progress will be measured and a transition plan for how to meet those goals.
 
As an individual with a learning disability, you have the right to advocate for conditions that will help you meet success. Your right to self-advocate is primarily supported by the following disability laws: the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under these laws, in order to exercise your rights to accommodations and modifications at work or in education programs, you will have to:

-Disclose that you have a disability and provide current documentation
-Make a formal request for specific accommodations or modifications, based on your learning strengths and challenges

Finding the correct educational match for your child will not always be easy; schools, districts and states all have varying capacities to accommodate students will LDs. However there are hundreds of school across the U.S. that are dedicated to doing such that. Hiring an educational consultant or browsing online for some of these schools is a good way to gather information on your options. The down side to this is that the cost of tuition is often very high in order to cover all of the remediation and direct services required to help your child succeed. However if you are not satisfied as a parent by the progress of the education your child is receiving and a schools inability to effectively execute the stated IEP, then you can pursue legal action against the states inability to provide a quality education for your child. The result is the state often pays the tuition to educate your child at these schools designed for children like yours.

Finding a supportive, innovative, and holistic approach to the education of students with learning disabilities to help your child recognize and optimize their full potential will be the best chance of success!

April 28th, 2010
Topic: Team Produced News Tags: None

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