WHAT IS A LEARNING DISABILITY?
A learning disability (LD) is a lifelong condition that interferes with how a person receives, processes, stores or responds to information. Learning disabilities can affect one or more of the following ability areas:
- reading – decoding words or comprehension
- writing – grammar, punctuation, spelling or expressing ideas
- oral expression
- math calculations or problem solving
- listening comprehension
A person must be of average or above average intelligence to be diagnosed with a LD. It is not
an emotional disorder nor the result of cultural or ethnic differences. A learning disability is
presumed to be neurologically based.
Learning disabilities affect people differently and range from mild to severe. Some people have
more than one LD and approximately one third also have ADHD. With proper evaluation and appropriate
learning strategies and accommodations, people with learning disabilities can achieve their goals.
HOW CAN THE AFFECTS OF A LEARNING DISABILITY BE MINIMIZED?
Educational strategies, appropriate computer technology and accommodations that get around the LD’s
functional limitations (adverse affects) are effective when combined with the motivation, commitment
and self-discipline required of successful students.
WHAT ACADEMIC ACCOMMODATIONS ARE MOST OFTEN USED?
Accommodations are individualized for each student based on how the disability affects the student in
each of their classes. Some typical accommodations include access to class notes, adapted testing, and
printed materials in alternate formats, e.g. e-text .
WHAT OTHER SERVICES DOES DSS OFFER FOR STUDENTS WITH LD’s?
The DSS Learning Disability Specialist teaches an Introduction to Effective Study class for students
with LD and/or ADD who are registered with DSS. DSS also provides disability management advising,
referrals to other campus and community services, demonstrations of computer technology that assist students with reading and writing and provides information and workshops on issues of disability in school and work.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF LEARNING DISABILITIES?
(No one will experience all of these.)
Reading - confusion of similar words, difficulty using
phonics, problems reading multi-syllabic words, slow reading rate and difficulty with comprehension.
Writing - difficulty with sentence structure, poor grammar,
spelling, reversing letters, difficulty copying from the board, omitting words, poor or illegible
handwriting, difficulty with spacing, capitals and punctuation.
Oral Language - difficulty expressing oneself verbally, problems describing events or
stories in proper sequence.
Math - difficulty memorizing math tables or understanding word problems, reversing
numbers, number sequences, or operational symbols, difficulty copying problems or aligning columns and
problems with reasoning and abstract concepts.
Study Skills - poor organization and time management and difficulty following directions.
Social Skills - difficulty "reading" facial expressions and body language,
problems interpreting subtle messages such as sarcasm, confusion in spatial orientation, getting lost
easily, difficulty following directions, disorientation in time or difficulty telling time.
Taken from Wren, Carol and Segal Laura, College Students with Learning Disabilities:
A Student’s Perspective. DePaul University, 1998.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I THINK I HAVE A LEARNING DISABILITY?
The DSS disability specialists are available to talk with students and help them decide if they want to
pursue an assessment. DSS will also provide information on the LD diagnosticians in the community and
make referrals, if requested.
WHAT ARE SOME HELPFUL RESOURCES ON LD?
Survival Guide for College Students with ADHD or LD, by Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D.,
Magination Press, NY, © 2006
Learning Outside the Lines, by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole, (two Ivy League students
with learning disabilities and ADHD give you the tools for academic success and educational
revolution) Fireside Press, NY, © 2000.
Booklets on LD http://condor.depaul.edu/~cwren/booklets/bkt-home.htm
HEATH Resource Center www.heath.gwu.edu/
LD Online www.ldonline.org
Learning Disabilities Association of America www.ldanatl.org
LD-List e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, “subscribe” ld-list
National Center for Learning Disabilities www.ncld.org/