James Wendorf, who does an excellent job as Executive Director for NCLD (National Center for Learning Disabilities), was interviewed recently. and the question asked was:
What are the biggest challenges facing someone with a learning disability today?
Low expectations, pure and simple. Unfortunately, too many educators, policy makers and even parents themselves believe that young people with learning and attention issues can’t and won’t make it–to a regular high school diploma, on to college or a vocational program, and into a job that will provide meaning and adequate financial support.
We have talked with and helped thousands of students with dyslexia and/or a learning disability; I must say, for the students we see, low expectations are not the major problem.
The parents we see have often:
– Had their child assessed by a school and often privately
– Used tutors, possibly a learning center, and often a dyslexia program and even dyslexia programs
– A strong commitment to help their child succeed, but have not yet found the answer
These parents consistently have high expectations, but the results are not consistent with the time, money and effort they have invested.
If low expectations are not the number one challenge, then what is?
In our own family and with our clients, the number one challenge is that most parents and schools do not realize that students with learning disabilities or dyslexia both learn differently and have a combination of attention and/visual tracking issues.
Many students with a learning disability or dyslexia have the following three challenges:
1- The child learns differently and does not often:
- Understand frequently used words — because the student does not have a picture of what the words like but, what, if and except mean
- Recognize words the student has seen and not mastered
- Visualize what he or she has read – the students are great at visualizing, but the student has not learned to visualize what he or she has read
2- The attention and visual tracking issues are often not identified and even when the problems are identified, they are not always addressed. The challenges include
- Too often attention challenges are not addressed because natural and effective tools like the Interactive Metronome (R) and Brain Gym (R) exercises are not offered
- Visual tracking issues are often missed and sometimes the required training is not done — it can be expensive
3- For a child who learns differently and has attention and/or visual tracking issues, it is up to the parents to both identify and pursue the appropriate training