Learning Disabilities

Some Considerations

  • A learning disability is not a disorder that a student "grows out of." It is a permanent disorder affecting how students with average to above-average intelligence process incoming information, outgoing information, or both.
  • Learning disabilities are often inconsistent. They may be manifested in only one specific academic area, such as math or foreign language. There might be problems in grade school, none in high school, and again in college.
  • Learning disabilities are not the same as mental retardation or emotional disorders.
  • Common accommodations for students with learning disabilities are alternative print formats, taped lectures, note takers, course substitutions, early syllabus, and exam modifications.

Instructional Strategies

  • Keep instructions brief and as uncomplicated as possible.
  • Assist the student with finding an effective note taker from the class.
  • Allow the student to tape-record lectures.
  • Clearly define course requirements, the dates of exams, and when assignments are due; provide advance notice of any changes.
  • Provide handouts and visual aids.
  • Have copies of the syllabus ready three to five weeks prior to the beginning of classes to facilitate the taping or scanning of textbooks.
  • Break information into small steps when teaching many new tasks in one lesson (state objectives, review previous lesson, summarize periodically).
  • Allow time for clarification of directions and essential information.
  • Allow the use of spell-check and grammar-assistive devices.
  • When in doubt about how to assist the student, ask him or her.
  • Allow the student the same anonymity as other students.