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? 


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.