“We are now going to go chapter by chapter and review just the very most important information that we have discovered on this case.”
So, without any further ado… (what is ado, anyway?)……………
Chapter 1 – What is a Learning Disability?
We learned that a learning disability is a difference in the way your brain “processes” information that causes you to “underachieve” in school. Certain kinds of information get stuck or confused while it goes through your brain so it is hard for you to show teachers how smart you really are.
Chapter 2 – What Causes a Learning Disability?
We learned that nobody really knows for sure what causes a learning disability, but the most likely possibilities include:
Birth Trauma Heredity Lead Poisoning Accident Incomplete Brain Programming
Of these possibilities, heredity seems to be the leading cause of learning disabilities.
Chapter 3 -Discrepancy = Underachievement
We learned that the term “discrepancy” is often used to describe how much difficulty you are really having in school. But it turns out that “discrepancy” is just a fancy word for “underachievement”. And “underachievement” just means that you don’t do as well as you could be doing in school if your learning disability didn’t “get in the way”.
So discrepancy and underachievement mean that you can’t always show people how smart you are in school. And that’s one of the most frustrating things about a learning disability, isn’t it?
Chapter 4 -Processing: The Key to the Mystery
In chapter 4 we learned how information travels through your brain. First, information enters your brain through one of your “sensory” channels, usually visual or auditory, but sometimes other senses (such as taste, smell, and touch) are used. Next, the information goes to the “cognitive” processing areas where it may be processed either “sequentially” (organized and filed) or “conceptually” (“big picture” and general concepts). We also learned that for some LD students it is the speed that the brain processes information that causes the most trouble. For these students, any kind of information is just processed too slowly! And finally, we learned that every task requires at least two types of processing (at least one sensory channel and one cognitive channel). So a problem with either processing channel could cause a learning difficulty.
Chapter 5 -Using Accommodations to help you learn
In this chapter, we learned that you have a natural “learning preference” which is just the opposite of your learning disability. We learned how you can use your learning preference, along with accommodations so that your learning disability doesn’t cause so much interference in school. Finally, we learned about things your teachers can do for you and also some things you can do to help yourself learn better.
Chapter 6 – Other Issues Related to LD
In chapter 6 we learned that LD students often have other issues which add to their difficulties both inside and outside of school. The issues we learned about included:
Low Self-esteem Social Confusion Communication Attention
We also learned that these issues can cause difficulties with learning and relationships that are just a serious as the difficulties caused by the learning disability itself. So it is very important to realize if these are difficult issues for you. If so, the very best thing you can do for yourself is to be as open and honest as you can be about your learning disability and any “related problems” you may have. In that way, people around you will be able to understand and accept your difficulties.
Chapter 7 – Intelligence vs. IQ
Here we learned something extremely important – that IQ scores are not perfect ways of measuring your intelligence. IQ tests can really help to find out about how you process information and where your strengths and weaknesses may be. But when you have a learning disability it is especially hard to measure your real potential. So your IQ score may not be a very good estimate of your real ability. We also learned that there may be many different kinds of intelligence. You could be “gifted” in some areas but struggle in others.
Chapter 8 – Exercising Your Weakness
In chapter 8 we learned that you may be able to improve your processing weakness by doing certain kinds of activities. The idea is to force yourself to use your weak processing channel instead of just finding a way to avoid it. You may be surprised how much your processing can improve with practice.
Chapter 9 – LD and the Law
We learned about three very important federal laws that protect your rights:
IDEA makes sure you get the right special education services
Section 504 makes sure you can get appropriate accommodations for everything else in school
ADA makes sure you can get appropriate accommodations outside of school, for the rest of your life.
All of these laws give handicapped people the right to appropriate accommodations so that their handicap or disability does interfere so much in their life.
Chapter 10 – Becoming an effective Self-Advocate
In this chapter we learned that it is very important for you to start advocating for yourself instead of depending upon someone (like your parents or case manager) to advocate for you. This is especially important as you go into high school and beyond. Self-advocacy involves knowing your rights and understanding your learning disability so that you can ask for the accommodations that you really need. But, to be a good self-advocate, you need to be willing to accept your disability and not waste all of your energy hiding it from others.
Chapter 11 – Planning Your Future, High School and beyond
Finally, we started to plan for your future including high school, after high school, and career. It is very important to always be thinking about your future so that you can do what is needed to keep all of your options open. Also, having a future plan can help you stay motivated, even when school gets difficult. We only scratched the surface. You will need to continue planning for your future for many years to come.
“I hope you have learned a lot about yourself as we uncovered many of the mysteries of your learning disability.”
“Hopefully, the information we have discovered on this case will help you to better understand and cope with your learning disability. But we haven’t uncovered all of the clues. There is much of the mystery left for you to continue exploring on your own.”
“Right now, I am being summoned back to Scotland Yard to work on yet another mystery. Something about kittens and lost mittens.”
“So it is finally time to put my seal of approval on this case… now where did I leave my seal of approval? Ah, there it is!”
“One last thing. Has anyone seen my magnifying glass???????”
Return to Table of Contents
Published with Permission Of Writer: Scott L. Crouse, Ph.D.
LDInfo.com: A website dedicated to the advancement of practical knowledge and understanding about the often mysterious world of Learning Disabilities.
Copyright � 1996 Scott L. Crouse