I am constantly confronted by common myths and misunderstanding concerning learning disabilities. Today I would like to tackle a few of them. Unfortunately, unlike the Myth Busters show I do not get to use cool explosions.
Myth: Learning disabilities are just an excuse for poor schools or laziness, they did not exist when I was in school.
Fact: Ludwig Van Beethoven, Winston Churchill, Louis Pasteur and Thomas Edison all had learning disabilities. There have always been individuals with learning disabilities. Prior 1975 schools in the United States were not required to provide specialized educational programs for students with disabilities. While some schools did provide special classes, they were not required to provide an education for children with learning disabilities. Many children with learning disabilities were considered dumb, slow or just uneducable and where just either passed along or dropped out of school.
Myth: People with learning disabilities are either slow or not very smart
Fact: Intelligence has nothing to do with learning disabilities. In fact to be considered learning disabled one must have an average or above intelligence. Many with learning disabilities are very intelligent; their brains just process information differently.
Myth: ADD /ADHD is just an excuse for poor behavior used by parents who refuse to discipline their children.
Fact: That statement is wrong on so many levels. ADD/ADHD is a medical condition where the brain does not process sugars correctly. Of course, there are some children with ADD/ADHD whose parents do not discipline them. Having ADHD was never an acceptable excuse in my house, trust me I was very well-disciplined.
Myth: Children outgrow learning disabilities.
Fact: No, children do not outgrow learning disabilities. Learning disabilities effect adults as well. By adulthood, many people with learning disabilities have either learned to adapt and compensate for learning disabilities or struggle to get by.
Myth: People with learning disabilities are lazy.
Fact: No more than anyone else. Although people with learning disabilities especially children may have a lower frustration level and give up easily when encountering difficulties. Sometimes even the simplest task can seem impossible and failure inevitable.
Myth: Accommodations made by schools for students with disabilities give them an unfair advantage and are often obtained by people who do not really need them.
Fact: In the past there been some well documented cases of abuse of accommodations by schools or coaches who want to make school easier for athletes it really is an uncommon occurrence. In fact, many who really need accommodations do not get any. The purpose of accommodations and Individual learning plans is to level the playing field for those with learning disabilities.
Myth: Since learning disabilities are often not detected until school the real problem is with the school not the student.
Fact: Learning disabilities are often not detected until children begin to read, write and perform other academic tasks. Some schools can accommodate learning disabilities better than others.