Common Misconceptions About Learning Disabilities

Misconceptions People Commonly Believe About Learning Disabilities

Girl sitting at kitchen counter struggling with homework
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The statistics are troubling—20 percent of the students with learning disabilities in high school will drop out compared to the 8 percent of the general student population, close to half of secondary student with learning disabilities perform more than three grade levels below their enrolled grade in essential academic skills, and only 10 percent of students with learning disabilities are enrolled in a four-year college within two years of leaving school.

There's no doubt these statistics and numbers can look daunting for a newly diagnosed student or parent of a learning disabled child. However, a huge part of the fear behind learning disabilities comes from misinformation and misconceptions. Extinguishing some of these myths can help give us a better idea about what learning disabilities are and how to best manage them.

Learning Disabilities Can Be easily Identified at a Young Age

In truth, there is no quick or easy way to diagnose someone with a learning disability. There are no tests or scans that can be done to swiftly spot a learning disability in a child. At this time, even the most sophisticated technologies and genetic studies cannot predict or identify the presences of a learning disability. Oftentimes, learning disabilities will go unrecognized for many years. On average, children with learning disabilities are not identified until the third grade.

As explained by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, because most children have difficulties with learning and behavior at some point in their development, a learning disability can be hard to pinpoint until parents or teachers are able to notice a "consistent unevenness in the master of skills and behaviors." The little knowledge that is available about learning disabilities shows that they tend to run in families, making a family history of academic difficulties an indicator.

Identifying and diagnosing a learning disability is something that takes place over time. It is a process that requires information from various different sources and experiences. While there are some early warning signs of learning disabilities, parents and guardians should not jump to any rash conclusions. Learn how to recognize early signs of potential learning disabilities.

Learning Disabilities Denote a Lack of Intelligence

This is one of the most harmful and misguided misconceptions about learning disabilities that is out there. Learning disabilities are disorders that do not stem from a diminished cognitive ability. Learning disabilities have to do with the way in which individuals process things. Those who do have learning disabilities have all of the mechanisms and hardware to do well and learn; the issue is that their brains retrieve, interpret, organize, and distribute information in unique ways. This is the reason that diagnosing and treating learning disabilities is such a challenge for doctors and scientists.

Without being able to pinpoint a physical location for the issue, studying can be extremely challenging. It is important that the general public understands that individuals with learning disabilities are not any less intelligent than anyone else. It is also important to understand that learning disabilities are not curable or fixable through more motivation. Children with learning disabilities cannot merely "try harder" to fix their disability. These are real disorders with real impacts that have nothing to do with being lazy or unmotivated.

Learning Disabilities Will Get Better as Individuals Become Older

Many people think that learning disabilities are something that will fade with time and age. While many individuals become better able to cope and compensate for their disability with time, the disorder is with you forever. This does not, however, indicate that an individual with a learning disability cannot achieve success. With time and practice, many individuals learn to better accommodate for areas in which they struggle. Because a learning disability is unique for each person to some degree, the more a person learns about their own disability the more equipped they are to manage it. Just as someone with a physical health issue can still be a successful athlete with the right training and management, so too can a learning disabled individual succeed beyond their disability. Learning disabilities are an added challenge to an individual's educational and academic lives, but with the right education, management, and help it is no challenge too difficult to surpass.

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