Learning Disabilities – Myths and Facts that every Parent should know

Parents fret and even panic when their child is unable to match speed with his peers. One reason could be a learning disability. So if you are the parent of an under performing child – or even if you are not – let’s debunk some myths about SPED and LD.

We all celebrate various days such as Father’s day and Mother’s day –  earmarked for our loved ones – so why not this one? October is earmarked as world dyslexia month. Did you know though that dyslexia is just one type of learning disability? There are many others and learning disability is the umbrella term that covers them all.

Now let’s look at a few more myths

Accommodations are Unfair

Contrary to the belief, accommodations level the playing – oops studying – field. Take for example mathematics. A child with LD will struggle to add the first two numbers of the problem while his peers surge ahead to the next problem. A calculator helps him keep up.

Reversal and mirror-writing means the child has dyslexia

When children first learn to recognize the alphabet and form words, it is normal for them to write backward or reversed letters and words. It is only when this persists beyond a point that it may be termed dyslexia.

Dyslexia is caused by improper phoneme instruction

This myth has its roots in the fact that remedial teachers use phonics to teach their students certain skills. This does not imply that improper phonics instruction is the cause for dyslexia. There are several causes for inability to read and only a proper diagnosis by a professional using standardized test can tell whether a child has dyslexia or other form of LD.

Children are just lazy and stupid there’s no such thing as LD

Children with dyslexia and other forms of LD learn early on that they will be unable to perform certain tasks such as reading. They shirk these tasks and as a result, are perceived as lazy. Alternatively, if they try to bumble through the reading and other schoolwork they may come across as stupid.

In fact, they are intelligent but unable to perform.

Dyslexia cannot be diagnosed 

Study skills are not a measurable quantity and this is why many people doubt the accuracy of diagnosis. In fact, the tests are standardized and, coupled with the observations of the professional, give a close to accurate measure of the problem. However, results may vary from one professional to another.

LD can be cured and/or outgrown

Corrected or managed are perhaps better terms. Learning disabilities are of different types and vary in degree from one person to another. LD is a life-long condition and there is no cure in the true sense; nor does it disappear with age. A professional can correct it to the extent that the person no longer finds it a handicap. Treatment varies depending on the type of LD and the extent to which the individual is affected.

LD cannot be diagnosed before a certain age

Most children struggle to read and write when the first begin to learn these skills. It is therefore difficult to detect dyslexia during the early years of education. However early detection enables faster – and better – correction. Experienced professionals can detect LD as early as 5 years of age.

LD can be cured with medication

Dyslexia and other forms of LD are neurological disorders rather than medical issues. Psychologists and psychiatrists, rather than conventional medical doctors therefore perform the diagnosis. Psychiatrists may occasionally prescribe drugs to control certain traits and conditions.

Dyslexia is permanent

As we said earlier, Dyslexia and other forms of LD are conditions for life. One can however learn to overcome the difficulties to the extent that one does not feel handicapped in the course of day-to-day affairs.

Dyslexic children will never read learn to read

With proper intervention, dyslexics can learn to read and comprehend like any other child. Some may require technological aids. Early detection and intervention are key factors in addressing the problem.

LD is uncommon and happens only to boys

Research shows that one in five people are dyslexic. LD affects girls as much as it affects boys. However, boys become boisterous when the find themselves unable to perform whereas girls will suffer in relative silence. This results in lower detection rate among girls.

Children with LD have a special gift

There is little or no evidence to support this. That said, every child does have an inherent capability and aptitude and children with LD are no different. In addition, children with LD have been seen to gravitate towards art as it involves very little mental work.

Dyslexia is inherited

Once again, this is a baseless fact with little or no evidence to support it. Research is underway and only time will tell the truth of this statement.

Gifted Children do not have LD

Gifted children can suffer from LD just as any other child can. Albert Einstein, the renowned scientist was a dyslexic as was Walt Disney. Edison attend school for only a few days before being thrown out as addled. All of them were nevertheless stalwarts in their chosen fields. Evidence shows that children with LD can be extremely intelligent and perform fabulously.

If a child is not given an IEP he does not have LD

Dyslexia and other forms of LD occur in varying degrees. Special education and remediation are ways to correct the problem and help the child cope. Further, different types of disabilities require different type of support and concessions. Therefore, this generalization does not hold true.

Reading out loud daily can correct Dyslexia

Reading aloud does not correct the problem. On the contrary, the child may learn to mispronounce certain words and overlook others. He will continue to struggle with the shapes of alphabets and numbers and ultimately become resistant to reading.

If Spelling errors are condoned the child will never learn to spell

Whether or not a child learns to spell is dependent on his skill at recognizing alphabets, their patterns, and phonics. Marking off spelling errors will only serve to diminish the already low confidence of a child with LD.

If a child does not learn to read by age 10 he will never learn

Not true at all. There is no age for learning as has been evidenced by adult learning programs. That said, early detection begets early correction. Therefore, the earlier you consult a professional the better.

If a child can’t read his intelligence is poor

Evidence shows that many dyslexics have an above average IQ just as any other child whereas low IQ characterizes some forms of LD such as slow learners. Assessment and diagnosis will show the specific area in which the child is struggling and the depth to which the problem is rooted.

LD is an academic problem

LD is a neurological disorder that first manifests in academics as poor performance at school. However, children with LD struggle with other issues such as fine and gross motor skills, hyperactivity, social interaction, and other behavioral problems.

We have listed 20 myths about Learning Disabilities in this post. If you wish to know more, feel free to ask.

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