October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, a time when we recognize and raise awareness for individuals with learning disabilities.
Published: October 28, 2022
By: Courtesy of The Learning Disabilities Association of America
Author Website: Click to Visit
While October is almost over, it’s never a bad time to take a look at what a learning disability is.
A learning disability is a neurological difference that interferes with an aspect of learning, like oral language, written language, reading, or mathematics. There is evidence that learning disabilities are genetic or can be caused by environmental factors like exposure to toxic chemicals.
Those with learning disabilities are of above average intelligence and can reach average or higher achievement levels when given the right interventions and support. Dyslexia is the most well-known learning disability, but dyscalculia (math) and dysgraphia (writing) are also included under this category. Learning disabilities are not the same as intellectual disabilities or autism.
Some 2.3 million students in the United States are diagnosed with one or more learning disabilities, and specific learning disabilities are the largest category under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that ensures that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. The probability that you know someone with a learning disability is high!
There are many harmful myths about individuals with learning disabilities, which makes it essential to raise awareness during the month of October and the rest of the year. A 2017 report from the National Center for Learning Disabilities found that an alarming 33% of educators believe that learning disabilities are really just laziness, and 78% of parents believe a child can succeed in school if they just try hard enough. Students with LD are often trying as much as they can, and often need to work harder than their non-disabled peers. In order to succeed, these students need to be identified, and receive interventions and support. It is important for students with learning disabilities to be identified accurately and early, thus ensuring that they have the correct interventions and accommodations for successful learning.
Students with learning disabilities are also punished more frequently and more severely than their non-disabled peers. In addition to missing out on key instruction time due to punishments like suspension and expulsion, these students are disproportionately vulnerable to zero tolerance discipline policies. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, students with disabilities are three times more likely to be arrested by police in schools. This increases the chances that a student will become involved with the criminal justice system in the future, which is widely referred to as “the school to prison pipeline.”
At the Learning Disabilities Association of America, we educate teachers, parents, and individuals so that individuals with learning disabilities of all ages can access the support and resources they need to succeed. Spreading the word about learning disabilities is key to the heart of our work, because it is only when learning disabilities are universally understood that we can equal the playing field for all learners.
Our schools need to be aware of learning disabilities to identify students appropriately and deliver research-based instruction so students make progress in all curriculum areas. Parents and caregivers need to know the signs of a learning disability, as they’re often the first to notice their child is struggling. Adults with learning disabilities should be aware of their rights in the workplace or know that they’re entitled to accommodations to help them succeed. Policymakers need to know the latest research about learning disabilities before they enact laws that impact the LD community.
During Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and throughout the rest of the year, we hope you join us in spreading awareness for individuals with learning disabilities so we can create a more equitable world for all learners.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America has been creating opportunities for success for individuals with learning disabilities for nearly 60 years through support, education, and advocacy. Learn more about LDA at ldaamerica.org