Online Course: Learning to Achieve Definitions of Learning Disabilities

The Learning to Achieve Definitions online course asks users to consider the questions below. Please post your responses to some or all here for discussion. We also invite you to read the responses of fellow teachers, as well as to ask questions or comment where you would like to know more.

  • Share examples of matching work environments to individual strengths from your experiences working with adults.
  • Share ideas and insights associated with the consensus statements and how they affect your work.
  • What additional insights do you have about what it means for an individual to have LD?
  • How might the information you learned in this module affect your work with adults? 

Comments

WE have a student that does well in reading but will avoid math.  Numbers just confuse her and this is a barrier to her taking and passing the GED tests.  We are wanting to have her tested, but she is resisting.  This has really helped me to become more aware of our students struggles.

Although I have worked as an Adult Ed instructor for years, there is always more to learn about students and learning disabilities and innovative ways tot try to help them.  I look forward to learning more in this course and I think I am off to a good start.

A multitude of research has been studied over the years.  Training for teachers to raise awareness of what a learning disability is and is not, helps strengthen the students' educational experience.  Learning disabilities are life long, so early intervention in elementary promotes positive results for a lifetime of learning experiences.  Students may have a specific learning disability, but they are not caused by other conditions like mental illness.  Students may not have a learning disability, but may have other factors affecting their learning.  A reflection is for an adult education teacher to assist students by matching a career that fits the students' strengths for successful employment.  For example, if a student is mechanically inclined, take steps to enroll the student in a vocational auto repair course.  Lastly, make connections with students so that mutual success can be achieved.  

All 6 of the consensus statements resonated with me. While I'm not privy to the specific disability, I have noticed these things as I've worked with students who have identified as having a disability. 

  1. The concept of LD is valid and is supported by strong converging evidence. Yes!
  2. LD are neurologically based and intrinsic to the individual. Yes!
  3. Individuals with LD show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities. Absolutely!
  4. LD persist across the life span. Yes! Many have received accommodations from elementary school forward while some identify in adulthood. 
  5. LD may occur in combination with other disabling conditions, but they are not due to other conditions. Yes!
  6. LD are evident across ethnic, cultural, language, and economic groups. Absolutely true!

How have your selected consensus statements affected (or how will they affect) your work with adults with learning disabilities? I am able to give students the accommodations and support they need. 

My adult daughter is a wonderful artist, but her social competence keeps her from displaying her artwork for others to see. She is articulate when speaking, but her written communications jump from one thing to another without addressing the important points. Thinking about this, I can see instances with my adult students who may not feel that they can speak/write while being understood or made fun of. I will work on making the classroom a safer place for those who feel they cannot express themselves without ridicule. While I've never allowed ridicule, more can be done to make these students feel more confident.

LD persists across the Lifespan. Yes!

My husband has had dyslexia his whole life. He was undiagnosed in school and was called stupid and other demeaning names. He recognized his own problems within each of his children. He never got help with reading when he was young. The best job for him was learning on the job from others who could teach him or learning something himself by trial and error. He works best with his hands, but ask him to read an instruction manual? It's not going to happen. He retired after years of working as a maintenance man. He can fix anything.

The MRI images of a person with LDs were very striking to me. It certainly makes sense that the LD would persist across the life span of the individual.

Intra-individual differences in skills and abilities: I have a student who writes in all capitals. I did not realize that this could be a LD. This student also has problems remembering to capitalize when typing. This may simply be due to a lack of technical skills and practice. The writing in all capitals makes me think of my brother who is on the autism spectrum. An interesting aside is that my brother was taught to write in all caps while pursuing his degree in electrical engineering.

I have another student who was having difficulty hearing, understanding, and reproducing the English sounds in ESL class. I noticed the difficulty and moved the student to the front of the room. I also provided headphones for the computer program we use. These two things have helped tremendously. I plan to ask about options to get this student's hearing tested. This may be a physical problem that can be solved, or a difficulty that needs exploring.

1. What does it mean for an individual to have LD? If undiagnosed, it means that the individual will struggle their entire life. The individual will possibly believe that they are a failure and cannot meet the learning goals in the area of the LD. With diagnosis and implementation of modifications, the individual can be successful in academic/job settings. This helps the overall self-esteem of the individual and will hopefully lead them to a better, more fulfilling life. 

2. How might the information you learned in this module affect your work with adults? This module gives information to expand understanding the difficulties associated with adults who may have undiagnosed LDs. These difficulties include how the assessments do not transfer well to adult learners. 

I am much more aware of the need to be able to recognize that maybe a student has a Learning Disability but has not been documented or disclosed and make every attempt to make accommodations for  their learning.

Consensus statements #2, #3, and #5 are most relevant to my work with individuals with LD.

LD are neurologically based and intrinsic to the individual.

Individuals with LD show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities.

LD may occur in combination with other disabling conditions, but they are not due to other conditions.

I'm an Adult Basic Education teacher who's assisting incarcerated students with achieving their high school credential.  I decided to take this course because, although we have an academic advisor and learning counselor, we don't have a programming definition of LD that allow students to identify themselves as having a LD and/or provide myself with more information about what are LDs.

My students can check one of three boxes (“No,” “Yes – Observed/Disclosed,” “Yes – Documented”) to reveal a Specific Learning Disability (SLD).  When ask about their SLD, students typically tell me that they were in special education or that they don’t read well.  Those students who say that they have dyslexia learning disability cannot give me any specific problem areas. 

To help all my students to understand and identify their learning disabilities, I’m incorporating the distinctions between learning preferences, difficulties, and disabilities in my content-based lessons. To lessen any negative stigma students may associate with LD, I include lessons about multiple intelligence and have students take surveys to identify the main intelligence area and learning styles.  

We all are learning that LD may occur in combination with other disabling conditions, but they are not due to other conditions.

I feel I need to be more aware of my adult students learning.  Try to get more information about their learning weaknesses when they we're in school at a young age.  The information in module I learn in this module will help me work with the ESL students.  They may have never known that they had a LD situation.

This learning exercise is a great overview and has opened my eyes to causations and well as specific terminology that identifies issues I have experienced with students. I be belief this knowledge has impacted my perspective and will further inform my practice.

Several adults in my life experiences have lived with hidden disabilities.  One was a very well to do construction company CEO who could not read.  He hired someone to handle that aspect of his business with none the wiser.  There have been several highly educated people with writing difficulties.  They were grateful for the Spell Check feature.  I used the term difficulties on purpose, due to the times none of these were probably diagnosed with LD.  They learned to adapt to live with the area of weakness. 

 

Adult students being previously identified as LD would be aware of areas the specific LD affected and hopefully use self monitoring strategies taught through the use of RtI earlier in their education. When working with adults those identified or exposed to RtI should need continued support of what is in place.  With the process of identification of adult LD students being new to me, the use of the RtI model would benefit all my students progress.

It was really valuable to see the learning areas that can be considered in an LD diagnosis. I see many students with great strengths in one area and incredible struggles in other areas. For example, one of my younger students can learn math skills quickly, but agonizes when he needs to write or type. It is very hard for him to move words from thoughts onto paper or a screen. 

  1. LD persist across the life span.
  2. LD are neurologically based and intrinsic to the individual.
  3. LD may occur in combination with other disabling conditions, but they are not due to other conditions.

As a paraprofessional i have learned that some LD are not always due to some being neurological and as a person continues learning it can o=some time show throughout there work where they may be struggling or need more assistance by using RTI and further study.

Students who are accessed with Ld in their early years of school can get help with individualized support through their IEP.  AS they mature, those needs can change for the better or they can slip behind in skills. It is good to catch LD early so they can be helped right away.

 

An individual with LD might not show signs of a disability unitl he is exposed to somehting, such as math or reading. Once a problem is noticed , they can be tested using the IQ achievement model or the REsponse to Intervention model.  The RtI model changes teh focus of the problem from the student to the way they are taught.  More studenets can be accessed and makes resources more availabe for all students.  

As for how this inofrmatio can afect my work with students, I feel it will make me more aware of how to observe every child better, so that I might not miss that they are having toruble in certain subjects or physical needs.  

An individual with LD might not show signs of a disability unitl he is exposed to somehting, such as math or reading. Once a problem is noticed , they can be tested using the IQ achievement model or the REsponse to Intervention model.  The RtI model changes teh focus of the problem from the student to the way they are taught.  More studenets can be accessed and makes resources more availabe for all students.  

As for how this inofrmatio can afect my work with students, I feel it will make me more aware of how to observe every child better, so that I might not miss that they are having toruble in certain subjects or physical needs.  

An individual with LD might not show signs of a disability unitl he is exposed to somehting, such as math or reading. Once a problem is noticed , they can be tested using the IQ achievement model or the REsponse to Intervention model.  The RtI model changes teh focus of the problem from the student to the way they are taught.  More studenets can be accessed and makes resources more availabe for all students.  

As for how this inofrmatio can afect my work with students, I feel it will make me more aware of how to observe every child better, so that I might not miss that they are having toruble in certain subjects or physical needs.  

Those that havelearnig disabilites might be able to read fine, but may have math difficulties.  Learning diabilities can be mild or severe.  There ae tow ways to diagnose ld  IQ Achievemtn test and the RtI ( Response to Intervention).  The new RtI calls for the students to get high quality instruction and them the students would be assessed to see what progress they have made.  In comparison to the IQ assessment, it can focus more on having resources for all students.  I am a bit unsure how the RtI will work out, I will have to do more research on it.  As for how I might use this informaiton, I feel I better understand how to look for issues in learning and how to test for  it.  

Those that havelearnig disabilites might be able to read fine, but may have math difficulties.  Learning diabilities can be mild or severe.  There ae tow ways to diagnose ld  IQ Achievemtn test and the RtI ( Response to Intervention).  The new RtI calls for the students to get high quality instruction and them the students would be assessed to see what progress they have made.  In comparison to the IQ assessment, it can focus more on having resources for all students.  I am a bit unsure how the RtI will work out, I will have to do more research on it.  As for how I might use this informaiton, I feel I better understand how to look for issues in learning and how to test for  it.  

I feel like there exists the assumption that adults "outgrow" their LD, when in reality a person's LD persists over an individual's lifespan.  Sometimes the LD may be "masked" due to the adult's environment changing.  As a child, a student may have considerable difficulty reading and writing, but if they become an auto mechanic later in life, it may appear that the LD no longer exists.  In reality, it is still there, but it's not as obvious because the student's work environment is very different from a classroom. 

I found so much of this information to be really helpful. This past year I have been an ABE Instructor at a community college and have often felt the confusion of not knowing how to help students who either do have documented LD or express they think they have one but were never diagnosed. Often students who suspect they have an LD come in with a defeatist attitude. Many are enrolled through the county's alternative sentencing program and would not be in education otherwise because they gave up long ago and have convinced themselves or accepted the opinion of others that they cannot learn.. As mentioned in this course about co-occurrence, my students have multiple issues in their lives that seem to have contributed to their lack of academic progress. I found the MRI impactful since it shows the definitive difference in brains. I did appreciate the RtI model emphasizing how instructors can do their best to ensure all students receive high quality instruction based on science based methods that will help us determine progress and inform our teaching. 

In my experience many adults with LD have been undiagnosed and referred to something else entirely. I believe that individuals with LD do show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities. Sometimes there are other contributing factors to what we are not privy to until much later so skills and abilities may or may not be nurtured away from the classroom.

This lesson was very informative. It gave me a lot of insight on how people with disabilities learn. Also, it gave good information on how vision and hearing can play a factor in one's learning ability. It is important to understand that just because a person has a disability, does not mean that the person is not a human being.

Individuals with LD show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities. Individuals struggle with trying to learn. Within this struggle, not only are they trying to learn, but also cope with daily living. I think people do not realize the struggles and challenges they face on a daily basis. Individuals with LD can learn new things, but it will just take them longer. Society needs to learn to be patient with them and give them a chance.

This lesson provided a lot of information on the subject matter. This lesson gave me a lot of insight into the lives of people with disabilities.

LD are evident across ethnic , cultural, language, and economic groups. It doesn't matter where an individual came from and whatever is their background. It is based on the brain and it persist across a life span. Therefore, LD is real.

I learned that LD can be seen in brain images. I learned that LD sometimes can be diagnosed upon IQ test. My program does not test for LD nor do we ask about it.  I have never assumed that LD affected overall intelligence. I will continue to use differentiation to try to accommodate all learners.

Share ideas and insights associated with the consensus statements and how they affect your work.

The fact that LDs are supported, not only by evidence but, by strong evidence that resonates across cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. is an extremely important consensus statement (or mixture of the two). Without a backing, LD legislation and policies would not really exist, or at least would be controversial and subject to many debates. In addition, understanding that individuals with LD show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities is vital. This means that there is no cookie-cutter LD, and people have the responsibility to understand and know the individual's strengths and weaknesses.

I think it is very important that there was a varied group of stakeholders in the community to create the 6 consensus statements involving learning disabilities.  I think some older generation educators were not buying in to the research based data on brain function differences and thus, not the student's fault. Figuring out learning preferences, honing in on the knowledge gaps, and using patience and persistence will surely lead to a more successful outcome in our adult ed populations.  I feel that adults may be afraid to be judged for their disability or lack of understanding. Being open and honest about communicating the differences in brain function will take the stigma away and hopefully allow the adult to disclose faster.

These readings were insightful in that I never really thought to closely examine the intra-individual differences to see an LD that might be causing a student difficulty. I will make a more concerted effort to look for the "little things" moving forward. While I do not think any current students have an LD, I might pick up on more suitable clues if I watch more closely beyond them telling me that "math is hard" or they "don't like to read". 

This module has made me more cognizant of watching for subtle clues from students regarding where they struggle to help suss out LDs rather than waiting for them to disclose or even trying to afford diagnostic evaluations. 

Working with students that have LD has brought me greater insight to individual differences in  their confidence and self esteem. Many times just coming to the classroom has been a big accomplishment.

These students need the encouragement to stay the course, dropping out of school again will take their confidence another  step back.

We do not want that to happen, so phone calls ,text messages, letters and house calls keep these students engaged.

LD are neurologically based and intrinsic to the individual.  An individual may have other disabilities that are not related to the persons LD.

LD may occur in combination with other disabling conditions, but they are not due to other conditions.  So often we are so frustrated with trying to teach the material that we forget to see the individual.  The material may not be nearly as important and what is happening to the individual.  Being identified with a LD before really seeing and hearing the student and the situation may be the last straw in trusting education for the learner.  I was particularly struck by mental illness and chaotic experiences being sources of inability to learn that have nothing to do with a learning disability but we overlook them.  The cohort served by the program I am associated with lives in chaos and many are diagnosed with mental illness. Both of these present as learners being unable to focus, understand or achieve.  Great focus for our next in-service.

In a world with so many differences and emphasis on acceptance, one would hope a diagnosis would become a welcome answer to confusion and frustation in what is expected to be 'normal.' Being able to identify signficantly successful, happy and content individuals who have manged their LD is an encouragement for learners and their support groups.

Having LD is real. It will be a lifetime situation. It will be a challenge. Without close attention and management it can be a challenge difficult to deal with and to work through.  It is the job of educators to see in hear students and assist them in identifying and then managing and setting goals that will help them be successful and proud of who they are dispite the LD.

  • Share examples of matching work environments to individual strengths from your experiences working with adults.
  • Share ideas and insights associated with the consensus statements and how they affect your work.
    • Individuals with LD show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities.  I offer a variety of learning tasks so that all students will be successful in their learning journey.
  • What additional insights do you have about what it means for an individual to have LD?
    • I am sure it can feel very confusing.  It does make me wonder how often we miss the mark when another condition can share LD descriptors and the diagnosis is wrong because the LD is associated with the other existing condition.
  • How might the information you learned in this module affect your work with adults?
    • of all the consensus points, #5 concerns me the most.  I can't help but wonder how many people are misdiagnosed.  If I see an adult struggling, I do my best to find any way I can to help.  It is most difficult to work with a refugee who I know has a physical issue that could cause memory loss and trying to understand if the lack of memory (affects his ability to learn), is physical or mental due to PTSD. 

 

I learned a great deal about the Response to Intervention. I believe this could be helpful for the adults at my center.

I am not a teacher anymore but teaching in the Special Education field helps you to learn a lot on how to work with LD students with one and/or multiple disabilities. You get a chance to learn what they go through from day-to-day and how you can be an advocate for them. It also teaches patience and how not to be judgmental.