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Common Misconceptions About Learning Disabilities

Aug 18, 2007
A big part of the fear surrounding learning disabilities has to do with misinformation. Sure, parents have a right to be concerned about their child's well-being when they discover that he or she has a learning disability, but being accurately informed is half the battle. Don't let the following common misconceptions about learning disorders color your beliefs or those of your child.

1. Learning disabilities are environmental.
This untruth places the blame on parents for their child's learning problems. Learning disabilities aren't due to parental neglect; they're genetic, which basically means that they're an inherited characteristic, like height or eye color. Because they're genetic, they're also due to luck of the draw. For example, just because a child's father is dyslexic doesn't mean that the child will be. Learning problems aren't anyone's fault, but are the cause of faulty wiring in the brain. So put away the guilt.

2. All learning disabilities are the same.
False. There are many different types of learning problems. Some of the most common ones in this country include dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, auditory and visual perception disabilities, and memory disabilities. While some of them may have similar symptoms, they're not necessarily related, nor do they required uniform treatments. Even children with the same type of learning disability may respond differently to the same treatment. Thus it's important to keep individuality in mind when looking at learning problems.

3. Learning disabilities require special education.
Not necessarily. Although under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with learning disabilities have the right to special education classes, access to such programs shouldn't be seen as a blanket solution to these kinds of problems. Whether or not a learning disabled child should be put in a special education class has everything to do with the type and severity of his or her disability. Many special education programs at public schools are created to cater to mentally retarded students, not those with learning disabilities. For those with mild to moderate scholastic problems, extracurricular assistance via tutors or learning centers that are specially trained to deal with these kinds of disabilities provide all the help that is needed.

4. Learning disabilities denote lack of intelligence.
Definitely not! Many learning disabled students are just as bright (if not more so) as students without scholastic problems. Children with learning disabilities simply have a harder time processing certain types of information (i.e. letters, numbers, sounds, etc.). In fact, many students with learning problems have created ingenious ways of overcoming the obstacles they face, such as enhanced creativity or memorization skills. The important thing to remember is that learning disabilities have nothing to do with intelligence. A learning disabled child may score extremely well on an IQ test, but still have trouble working with number sequences. Such problems are entirely due to issues in information processing, not overall brainpower.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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