Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities – Homepage

Students with Learning Differences can succeed in college

According to Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, p. 301

The more we can see people in terms of their unseen potential, the more we can use our imagination rather than our memory with our spouse, our children, our co-workers or employees. We can refuse to label them — we can “see” them in new fresh ways each time we’re with them. We can help them to become independent, fulfilled people capable of deeply satisfying, enriching, and productive relationships with others.

Covey isn’t talking about seeing people with learning differences here. He is describing how we can look beyond our stereotypes, beyond what people usually do, to see their potential.

But it speaks equally well to how parents, teachers and others need to consider people with learning differences. In fact, we often see ourselves much like others see us.  If you are a student with Learning Differences, you also must learn to see yourself in terms of your unseen potential, rather than focusing on your years of learning problems.

Stop thinking of yourself as a person with a learning disability. You are an intelligent student who learns differently. You have many skills and gifts that you can use to learn and succeed in college and throughout your life.

Stephen Covey tells a story you may have heard before. A computer in England was “accidentally programmed incorrectly. It labeled a class of “bright” kids as being slow learners and a class of supposedly slow learners as “bright. That computer report was the primary criterion leading to the teachers’ images of their students at the beginning of the year.

When the administration finally discovered the mistake five and a half months later, they decided to test the kids again without telling anyone what had happened. And the results were amazing. The “bright” kids had gone down significantly in IQ test points. They had been seen and treated as mentally limited, uncooperative, and difficult to teach. The teachers’ paradigms had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the scores in the supposedly “dumb” group had gone up. The teachers had treated them as though they were bright. and their energy, their hope, their optimism, their excitement had reflected high individual expectations and worth for those kids.

The teachers were asked what it was like during the first few weeks of the term. “For some reason, our methods weren’t working,” they replied. “So we had to change our methods.” The information showed that the kids were bright. If things weren’t working well, they figured, it had to be the teaching methods…. Apparent learning disability was nothing more or less that teacher inflexibility. —  p. 301

That final sentence probably made sense in the context of those two classes. The “slow learners” were apparently just as bright as the other students but learned differently. That make sense. Students may have learning problems because

  • There were born with a brain that works differently. Sometimes it is a slight difference in the anatomy of some section of the brain. Sometimes there is a little more or less of certain brain chemicals. Sometimes the nerves form connections in different ways.
  • Some children have a poor self image. Parents and others have called them dumb, stupid, lazy, good for nothing, useless, and worse…. and the children believed them and still do.
  • Some children grew up with low expectations. Nobody in the family had ever been to college so no one expected them to do any different. Their parents may not have read them stories (perhaps they couldn’t read.) Their parents may have been struggling so hard trying to make a living that they had no time to work with the child who couldn’t understand the homework.
  • Some children have parents who are alcoholic, drug abusers, or mentally ill. These children sometimes raise themselves and younger siblings.
  • Some children attended poor schools and learned little more the basics. They may never have had a teacher share with them the excitement and joy of learning.

Only the first problem fits the usual description of a learning disability, but all of these students need help to survive in college.

Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.       — Goethe

Goethe refers to a man, but the same idea describes how we treat our children, our students, and ourselves. If you think of yourself and stupid or incapable of learning, you will be that person.

If you think of yourself as intelligent, if you are determined to overcome any problem that comes your way, knowing you will succeed in college and do great things in life, that is the person the person you are and that is the person you will be.

This section of the website will be divided into three main sections.

1. Dyslexia and all it’s related conditions including reading math, writing, spelling, and more.
3. Autism and Aspergers Syndrome

If your learning problems are due to other problems such as those above, you might find the sections on dyslexia and ADHD most helpful. Study the main section of the website. Talk to a counselor.

Whatever you do, do not give up. If you decide to succeed, you will succeed.

Exploring the LD section of the Breakthrough Learning Website

LD Overview:  I strongly recommend that everyone read this next.

LD First Steps:  Again, I strongly recommend that everyone reads this too

LD Links  shows  links to all the pages about Learning Differences/Disabilities.

If you have a question or comment that you want to keep private, or if you would like to share your own story   Contact Judy

Note: Comments or stories may be edited for length, spelling, and grammar before they are published on the website. If several stories are very similar, only one is likely to be published. Try to keep stories to one page or less. Be sure to include:
1.your actual name
2. your email
3. where you live
4. AND the name you would like used on the website.
—Some students want to use their actual name: Joe Pine from Kansas.
—Others prefer a first name or initials: Jeanette from New York or A.J.K. from London.
—Others  prefer something more anonymous: “Raymond from Colorado” or “They call me Stupid” from Miami, or “I wish I could read” from Mumbai, India.