Myths about Learning Disabilities

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NLCD) released a startling report yesterday regarding public perceptions of people with learning disabilities. Surveying just short of 2000 random adults in the USA, the report showed how incorrect many of our ideas about learning disabilities are and how their is a need for better understanding from just about everyone. 

Here are some of the biggest misconceptions held by the public about learning disabilities: 

Myth 1: Learning Disabilities Correlate with IQ. 
In the NLCD survey, 43% of respondents stated they believe learning disabilities correlate with IQ. 

Truth: It has been repeatedly demonstrated that people with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence. They simply struggle in one or two areas (reading, math, visual or auditory processing) where they need educational help. The very definition of a learning disability infers that a person is performing lower in a particular area than would be expected by comparing to their overall IQ. 

Myth 2: Learning Disabilities Can be Corrected with Devices like Glasses. 
55% of respondents to the NLCD survey thought that learning disabilities could be corrected with glasses. 

Truth: Learning disabilities are complex and generally defy easy explanation. They are not the same as vision or hearing impairments, which can also delay language acquisition and slow learning, and cannot be corrected with the same tools used to remove the barriers associated with low vision or hearing. There is no scientifically supported link between visual problems and learning disabilities. Statistically, children with dyslexia or related learning disabilities have the same visual function and health as children without such conditions. 

Myth 3: Watching TV, Using a Computer, Eating Poorly, or Vaccinations May Cause a Learning Disability 
22% of people who took the NLCD survey thought that using a TV or computer could cause a learning disability. 31% thought a poor diet could lead to learning disabilities and another 24% thought childhood vaccines could be responsible. 

Truth: Learning disabilities are neurological disorders and related to how certain people's brains are "wired" in different ways. Their brains literally process information differently. A person's environment can have a huge impact on how successful or debilitating their learning disability becomes, but is rarely the cause of the disability (with the exception of brain injuries). Making improvements to a home environment or school program can dramatically improve the functioning of a person with a learning disability. Not diagnosing or ignoring the disability can have the opposite effect.

Stay tuned to our blog this week as we explore different types of learning disabilities and how they can be accommodated in the workplace. 


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