Debunking Myths About Learning Disabilities
Just as all students are different, all students also learn differently. However, for some students, these differences make it more difficult for them to achieve academic success in a school setting. They may have difficulty reading, writing, performing mathematical calculations, or other skills. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a learning disability as “a disorder . . . which may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.” Some learning disabilities include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dysphasia, dyspraxia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a disorder of language, autism spectrum disorder, mild intellectual disability, emotional and social disorders.
Misunderstanding about learning differences can make a challenging academic experience even more onerous.
Here are some of the most difficult myths for students to overcome.
Myth: Students with learning disabilities just can’t learn.
Students diagnosed with a learning disability may have talents that are not recognized in the classroom. Indeed, some may have cognitive skills that distinguish them as gifted. Having a learning difference doesn’t mean a student is not smart. But it does mean that succeeding in school may not come easily to them. And that can lead others to wrongly assume that people who learn differently are lazy or unintelligent. In fact, after struggling to understand and compensate for their differences, most students with learning disabilities work harder than those for whom learning does not require special interventions or accommodations. With the right support, kids who learn and think differently can make great progress and thrive in school.
Myth: Learning disabilities aren’t real.
Learning differences like dyslexia and ADHD are caused by differences in how the brain develops and functions, and they often run in families. Some people find learning disabilities hard to acknowledge because they are invisible. The challenges these students face every day are not readily noticed by others the way one may notice a person who uses a wheelchair. Without recognizing the disability, people may think that students with learning disabilities get unfair advantages in school. But learning accommodations are necessary to give students with learning disabilities equal access to education, just as a wheelchair ramp gives equal access to students with physical disabilities. Students who learn differently struggle to succeed in the classroom and need additional support to be able to access the same educational environment as other students.
Myth: Students can grow out of learning disabilities or be cured.
While students, parents, teachers, and staff working together can develop accommodations that eliminate or lower many of the academic hurdles, there is no way to reconfigure a person’s neurological programming. Students with learning disabilities can learn and develop throughout their lives, but they will never learn in the same ways as their peers. Their learning differences are lifelong challenges that they won’t outgrow. The sooner students get the support they need, the sooner they start to make progress.
Learning differences are quite common but despite the large number of students who are diagnosed with a learning disability, myths still abound. People who learn differently are often trying as hard as they can to work around challenges. With the right kind of support they will be able to succeed and thrive.
Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.
LeRoi R. Jones,
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ