Common Myths and Facts about Learning Disabilities
This week I am continuing to write about learning disabilities in honor of Learning Disability Awareness month. Below are some common myths and facts regarding learning disabilities.
MYTH: Learning disabilities are not common.
FACT: Learning disabilities are common. In the 2010 U.S. Census, 4.6 million Americans reported having a learning disability, and one out of every 20 public school students is identified as having a learning disability.
MYTH: Common causes of learning disabilities include watching too much TV, eating a poor diet, receiving childhood vaccines, or lack of early parent/teacher involvement.
FACT: While the specific nature of learning disabilities within the brain is not completely known, it is known that they arise from neurological differences in brain structures and functions that affect a person’s ability to receive, store, process, retrieve, or communicate information. There is both a genetic component and an increased risk among children who are exposed in utero, or in early development, to toxic materials such as lead.
MYTH: Learning disabilities are linked to a lower IQ.
FACT: By definition, people with learning disabilities have average or above intelligence. Learning disabilities are not caused by having low cognitive ability (low IQ).
MYTH: People with learning disabilities are lazy.
FACT: People with learning disabilities work just as hard as those without learning disabilities. In fact, it is a requirement of both special education law (IDEA) and medical guidelines (DSM-V) that people with a learning disability/disorder must have a history of receiving interventions in their areas of difficulty before being diagnosed. That means that before someone can be identified as having a learning disability/disorder, she must have done even more work in the area of difficulty on top of the work all students do.
MYTH: People can grow out of learning disabilities.
FACT: Because learning disabilities arise from neurological differences in brain structure, people will not grow out of them. However, with proper evidence-based instruction and the ability to use appropriate accommodations, people with learning disabilities can learn strategies for navigating life by capitalizing on their strengths and bypassing their weaknesses.
MYTH: People with learning disabilities cannot have successful careers.
FACT: As stated above, people with learning disabilities have average or above intelligence and work just as hard as anyone else. If a student is taught effective learning strategies and efficient accommodation use, he can have a very successful career in a variety of fields. Some very successful people with learning disabilities include Richard Branson, Keira Knightley, Jay Leno, and Albert Einstein, just to name a few.
At Springer School and Center, students are taught research-based strategies and effective accommodations, including the use of technology, in order to be their best selves. Springer debunks learning myths for students, and instead teaches them that they can achieve despite their difficulties.
Blogger Stephanie Dunne, Ed.S., is the Center Director at Springer School and Center. Prior to coming to Springer, Stephanie practiced as a school psychologist in public and private schools for ten years.