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Five Myths about Learning Disabilities

Jennie Gibson

Over my years of working with parents of students with learning disabilities, I have noticed a few myths that sometimes get in the way of students getting the help they need.

1. Myth: People with learning disabilities are not as smart as others or they have a lower IQ.

Fact: People with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence.

2. Myth: All students with learning disabilities have trouble with reading.

Fact: Learning disabilities can be very complex. Some students with learning disabilities experience difficulty with reading, while others may read well but perform less well because of deficits in physical coordination (dyspraxia), problems with math (dyscalculia) or difficulty with handwriting (dysgraphia) and more. Each individual has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

3. Myth: Putting a “smart” child in special education is harmful to the child’s development.

Fact: Special Education services and supports should be tailored to the individual student’s needs. Some supports might be in a different setting than the regular class, but many supports can be provided right in the general education classroom and can make learning easier for the student as well as supporting the teacher to be more effective.

4. Myth: Do not let your child know that he or she has a learning disability. The label will cause low self-esteem and encourage bullying.

Fact: Teaching your child about his or her unique learning needs can empower the child to communicate needs and self-advocate in a healthy way. These skills will be increasingly valuable as the student moves into higher education and employment. Students who feel confident about disclosing their needs are less likely to be targeted for bullying too.

5. Myth: Students who are labeled as having a learning disability are not likely to be as successful as adults.

Fact: With appropriate supports, students with learning disabilities can learn how to make accommodations for themselves and to use their strengths to accomplish great things in their areas of interest. Many of the most famous and most successful people in the world experience learning disabilities. We should hold out great hope to our children that they can succeed. Sharing examples and success stories can be helpful, but keep in mind that success should be defined by the student according to his or her desires.


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