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? 


I have seen a few instances where an individual has been diagnosed with LD and may struggle in reading/comprehending but their level of math skills is astronomical.  Computers are like a second language.  This same individual also has a mental health disorder.  To know one does not define the other.  However, if put in the wrong situation at work, this individual develops a "fight or flight" mentality and appears to be off kilter.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD and struggled in elementary with reading and comprehension.  However, his understanding of computers and technical devices and his love for sports along with his athleticism offer a balance for him to strive to be better in all facets of life.

There are a couple people or incidences where I can point out the 6 consesus statements on learning disabilities. First, I think of those who have had trouble on certain things throughout their life. One person had trouble following multi step  directions as a child and into adult hood. He struggled with telling time on analog clocks and doing word problems in math in school. He, as an adult still has issues with these tasks. 

Another example would be that the disability occurs with other issues, such as mental health. Those who struggle with ADD may also seem like they have a learning disability because it is hard for them to concentrate on school work/tests. 

I learned that a learning disability may be different than just a learning preference. I also learned that there are 2 main tests to determine weather a person has a learning disability. 

LD is very difficult because it is often masked my another disorder.  Experiences for me  demonstrate a need for a mutually respectful and quiet place where an assessment can take place beyond the scope of friends and often family so there is no show to be put on for anybody else.

Teaching adult learners, LD persists across their lifespan is a given. Some of my students were diagnosed in school, but a lot of them weren't. They come to Adult Ed with anxiety, frustration, lack of faith in themselves and to top it off, an undiagnosed LD. The first step in success is helping them understand that an LD is not their fault, and that they can find practices that help them get around their difficulties. For example, I had one student who couldn't keep her numbers straight on her paper so we started using graphing paper and she knew that one number can only fit in one box. It seemed to work well for her and gave her the confidence to tackle math.

So far this is a great reminder that there are probably more students out there with LDs than we realize, especially if we are working with a minority population.

Very interesting lesson and observations.  Makes me think that successful adult educators need a very large tool chest coupled with a wide range of skills, and a need to engage in more individualized teaching.  I like the concept of RtL because of its focus on helping the student rather than on making a diagnosis; and will review the resources provided here. The lesson provides insight as to why in any given cohort of students there can be such variation in student learning.

I think the statement "Individuals with LD show intra-individual differences in skills and abilities" will have the largest impact on daily work with LD adults because it means that each individual will have their own challenges and solutions and we cannot just create one solution and expect everyone to use it and achieve success.

  1. How might the information you learned in this module affect your work with adults? A:  I will be more likely to get individual information before makes a plan to handle the LD.

Working with the offender population, many of these individuals are talented in areas that generally not standard employment criteria. For example, I have many individuals that have some amazing drawing skillsets. I often encourage these guys to seek employment to maximize those skillsets. Advertising, tattoo artistry, specialty design work for motorcycle and paint industries.

This course/module was helpful.  I will be more conscious to different learning styles when teaching.

Someone I know had some difficulty in college until they fought to get a diagnosis. Then the college provided some support, however, a lot of it was up to the individual professors, and they were allowed to make a lot of decisions about how the supports were implemented. I was very frustrated when I heard how little the professors complied with the diagnostic report. 

Hi, Ruth -

Thanks for sharing this experience of the person you know.  Unfortunately, I've heard similar statements in the past from others with disabilities pursuing post-secondary education.  The shift from entitlement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for K-12 to eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) means that adult learners need to have good self-advocacy skills to get their accommodations met in some post-secondary education settings.  Higher education institutions have staff interpret diagnostics and facilitate the education of professors in providing instructional accommodations, but the quality of those services can vary widely from one institution to the next.  It's important that learners (and their support networks) hold these institutions and their faculty accountable for providing approved accommodations for all learners.  It's not always as easy as it should be, but it can be done.


If "learning deficits" due to metal health or socioeconomic issues are different from a "learning disability," I wonder why this distinction isn't really discussed at the K12 level. Are the recommended interventions the same in either case, and if so, why is there a distinction?    

This module was very helpful by informing us that people with LD can have normal IQ but struggle in a specific area. I will be more conscientious of this in my future experience teaching adults. I have also learned that some people just need a bit of an environmental  adjustment to be more comfortable.

When I taught Special Education in a local middle school last year, I heard a co-teacher in a Reading class harrass a student who has dyslexia. She knew that the student has a problem with reading. That situation is a reminder that even people who work with learning disabilities can either not fully grasp or forget the challenges of learning disabilities. When I worked with the student in small groups or in whole-class setting, I always tried to help him  overcome the challenges related to his disability.

It seems that it is very difficult to find qualified school psychologists to perform assessments on adult students whose native languages are not English.  Spanish speaking assessors are fairly easy but there are many students from other countries whose native languages are fairly rare and access to fluent speakers of their languages is very difficult.

It seems as if working with adults with learning disabilities is very similar to working with LD children. Currently in our state, the only way to identify a learning disabled student is through IQ and achievement testing with only a few teachers trying RtI before referring a student for testing.

Background information from adult learners on their struggles in school helps to understand their struggles as adults,  some adults in my program were never diagnosed or do not know if they had an IEP.   Trying to relate math concepts to everyday life is our best way to explore the skills needed - returning to basic skills and how they use them every day either in work or personally is a tremendous boost to their confidence and ability to relate to the skills taught. 

The RTI method works well with adults that have never been diagnosed - they can see the specific skills they need to improve.  Most adult learners have busy lives and need straight forward info on how to improve skills.  Adults have an idea that something is different for them in some areas - reading, writing, or math.  Some of my clients are exceptional readers but math is a struggle, some are gifted in math and reading ability is disrupted by difficulty with comprehension or fluency.