Survey: Most people don’t know what a learning disability is

2 Sep

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a significant number of children are characterized with learning disabilities:

Students with disabilities

Question:
How many students with disabilities receive services?

Response:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975, mandates that children and youth ages 3–21 with disabilities be provided a free and appropriate public school education. The overall percentage of public school students being served in programs for those with disabilities decreased between 2003–04 (13.7 percent) and 2008–09 (13.2 percent). However, there were different patterns of change in the percentages served with some specific conditions between 2003–04 and 2008–09. The percentage of children identified as having other health impairments (limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes) rose from 1.0 to 1.3 percent of total public school enrollment; the percentage with autism rose from 0.3 to 0.7 percent; and the percentage with developmental delays rose from 0.6 to 0.7 percent. The percentage of children with specific learning disabilities declined from 5.8 percent to 5.0 percent of total public school enrollment during this period.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2011). Digest of Education Statistics, 2010 (NCES 2011-015), Chapter 2.

Children 3 to 21 years old served in federally supported programs for the disabled, by type of disability: Selected years, 1976-77 through 2008-09

Type of Disability

1976-77

1980-81

1990-91

1998-99

2000-01

2002-03

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-081

2008-091

Number served (in thousands)

All disabilities

3,694

4,144

4,710

6,056

6,296

6,523

6,719

6,713

6,686

6,606

6,483

Specific learning disabilities

796

1,462

2,129

2,790

2,868

2,848

2,798

2,735

2,665

2,573

2,476

Speech or language impairments

1,302

1,168

985

1,068

1,409

1,412

1,463

1,468

1,475

1,456

1,426

Intellectual disability

961

830

534

597

624

602

578

556

534

500

478

Emotional disturbance

283

347

389

462

481

485

489

477

464

442

420

Hearing impairments

88

79

58

70

78

78

79

79

80

79

78

Orthopedic impairments

87

58

49

69

83

83

73

71

69

67

70

Other health impairments2

141

98

55

220

303

403

521

570

611

641

659

Visual impairments

38

31

23

26

29

29

29

29

29

29

29

Multiple disabilities

68

96

106

133

138

140

141

142

138

130

Deaf-blindness

3

1

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

Autism

53

94

137

191

223

258

296

336

Traumatic brain injury

13

16

22

24

24

25

25

26

Developmental delay

12

178

283

332

339

333

358

354

Preschool disabled3

390

568

Number served as a percent of total enrollment4

All disabilities

8.3

10.1

11.4

13.0

13.3

13.5

13.8

13.7

13.6

13.4

13.2

Specific learning disabilities

1.8

3.6

5.2

6.0

6.1

5.9

5.7

5.6

5.4

5.2

5.0

Speech or language impairments

2.9

2.9

2.4

2.3

3.0

2.9

3.0

3.0

3.0

3.0

2.9

Intellectual disability

2.2

2.0

1.3

1.3

1.3

1.2

1.2

1.1

1.1

1.0

1.0

Emotional disturbance

0.6

0.8

0.9

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

0.9

0.9

0.9

Hearing impairments

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

Orthopedic impairments

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

Other health impairments2

0.3

0.2

0.1

0.5

0.6

0.8

1.1

1.2

1.2

1.3

1.3

Visual impairments

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

Multiple disabilities

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

Deaf-blindness

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

Autism

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.5

0.6

0.7

Traumatic brain injury

#

#

#

#

#

0.1

0.1

0.1

Developmental delay

#

0.4

0.6

0.7

0.7

0.7

0.7

0.7

Preschool disabled3

0.9

1.2

NOTE: Prior to October 1994, children and youth with disabilities were served under Chapter 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as well as under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Data reported in this table for years prior to 1994–95 include children ages 0–21 served under Chapter 1. Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia only. Increases since 1987–88 are due in part to new legislation enacted in fall 1986, which added a mandate for public school special education services for 3- to 5-year-old disabled children. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=64

Even though many children have learning disabilities, many people don’t understand what a learning disability is.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities reports the results of a survey about learning disabilities:

NCLD’s Survey of Public Perceptions of Learning Disabilities

NCLD collected data from a random sampling of 1,980 adults in the United States, evenly distributed across males and females, via an online survey in August 2012. The sampling is representative of the U.S. population with a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Twelve percent of the respondents cited having a learning disability, and eight percent of the parents surveyed have a child with a learning disability.

Results reveal the need for more education about the causes, treatments of, and treatments for learning disabilities, and a better understanding of the rights of learning disabled people in the workplace.

General Knowledge about Learning Disabilities

  • Regarding types of learning disabilities, two-thirds of people do not know what dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia are, whereas most people (91%) are familiar with dyslexia.
  • Most people (84%) see learning disabilities as a growing issue in the U.S.
  • Though the following celebrities have spoken publicly about their learning disabilities (LD), one-third of the public does not know about the celebrities’ LD:
    • Whoopi Goldberg
    • Bruce Jenner
    • Anderson Cooper
    • Richard Branson
    • Tommy Hilfiger

Learning Disability Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment

  • Most people (62%) say diagnosing a learning disability is a joint effort between the child’s pediatrician, parent/caregiver, teacher, and school administrator.
  • Learning disabilities are thought to be diagnosed in early schooling. Over half (53%) determined that learning disabilities are diagnosed during grades 1-4, while nearly a quarter (23%) think that they’re diagnosed in kindergarten.
  • Nearly eight in 10 people (76%) correctly say that genetics can cause learning disabilities.
  • Many respondents (43%) wrongly think that learning disabilities are correlated with IQ.
  • Nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) think learning disabilities can be caused by too much time spent watching television;  31% believe a cause is poor diet; 24% believe a cause is childhood vaccinations (none are factors).
  • Over one-third of respondents think that a lack of early childhood parent/teacher involvement can cause a learning disability.
  • People seem a bit unsure about how to treat learning disabilities. Most (83%) say that early intervention can help, but over half incorrectly cite medication and mental health counseling as treatments.
  • Over half of the respondents (55%) wrongly believe that corrective eyewear can treat certain learning disabilities.

Life with a Learning Disability

  • Nearly one-third of people incorrectly think that it is lawful for an employer to ask an interviewee if they have a learning disability.
  • Almost all respondents (90%) know that it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee who is found to have a learning disability.
  • It’s generally accepted (84%) that students with learning disabilities deserve individual classroom attention and extra time on tests.
  • Most people (63%) know someone who has a learning disability.
  • Nearly one-third of Americans (30%) admit to making casual jokes about having a learning disability when someone makes a reading, writing, or mathematical mistake.
  • Nearly half of the parents of children with learning disabilities (45%) say that their child has been bullied in the past year.
  • Two-thirds (66%) feel that children with learning disabilities are bullied more than other children.
  • Over a third of parents (37%) say that their child’s school inadequately tests for learning disabilities.
  • Almost two-thirds of parents (64%) say that their child’s school doesn’t provide information on learning disabilities.
  • Some parents of children with learning disabilities (20%) say they’re most comfortable consulting the internet for information regarding their child’s learning disability. However, over two-thirds of parents with children with learning disabilities prefer talking to a teacher (67%) or pediatrician (62%).
  • Most parents of children with learning disabilities (75%) believe they could do more to help their child. http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/what-is-ld/survey-executive-summary

See, What’s a Learning Disability, Anyway? Most Americans Confused http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2012/08/whats_a_learning_disability_mo.html?intc=es

The University of Michigan Health System has a great guide, Learning Disabilities:

What are learning disabilities (LD)?
If your child is not doing as well in school as they have the potential to, they may have a
learning disability. Having a learning disability means having a normal intelligence but a problem in one or more areas of learning.

A learning disability is a neurobiological disorder; people with LD have brains that learn differently because of differences in brain structure and/or function.  If a person learns differently due to visual, hearing or physical handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, we do not call it a learning disability.

Some people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

LDs can affect many different areas:

  • Spoken language—problems in listening and speaking
  • Reading—difficulties decoding or recognizing words or understanding them
  • Written language—problems with writing, spelling, organizing ideas
  • Math—trouble doing arithmetic or understanding basic concepts
  • Reasoning—problems organizing and putting together thoughts
  • Memory—problems remembering facts and instructions
  • Social behavior—difficulties with social judgment, tolerating frustration and making friends
  • Physical coordination—problems with handwriting, manipulating small objects, running and jumping
  • Organization—trouble with managing time and belongings, carrying out a plan
  • Metacognition (thinking about thinking)—problems with knowing, using and monitoring the use of thinking and learning strategies, and learning from mistakes

Why is early diagnosis and treatment so important?
When LDs are not found and treated early on, they tend to snowball.  As kids get more and more behind in school, they may become more and more frustrated, feeling like a failure. Often, self-esteem problems lead to bad behavior and other problems.  High school dropout rates are much higher for students with LDs than for those without
[1].   These educational differences, in turn, affect the job and earnings prospects for people with LDs.  When LD is not noticed or not treated, it can cause adult literacy problems.   By identifying LDs early, your child will get the help they need to reach their potential.

How common are learning disabilities?
Educators estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of kids between ages 6 and 17 have learning disabilities
[2]. More than half of the kids receiving special education in the United States have LDs [3]. Dyslexia is the most common LD; 80 percent of students with LDs have dyslexia [4].

What causes learning disabilities?
Because there are lots of kinds of learning disabilities, it is hard to diagnose them and pinpoint the causes. LDs seem to be caused by the brain, but the exact causes are not known. Some
risk factors are:

  • Heredity
  • Low birth weight, prematurity, birth trauma or distress
  • Stress before or after birth
  • Treatment for cancer or leukemia
  • Central nervous system infections
  • Severe head injuries
  • Chronic medical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma
  • Poor nutrition

LDs are not caused by environmental factors, like cultural differences, or bad teaching.

When your child is diagnosed with a LD, the most important thing is not to look back and try to figure out if something went wrong. Instead, think about moving forward and finding help. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/ld.htm

Once a learning disability has been diagnosed there are steps parents can take to advocate for their child.

Scholastic has great advice for parents in the article, Falling Behind With a Learning Disability:

Kids who are struggling can fall way behind. To identify a potential learning disability, ask yourself:

  • Does your child have uneven skills — performing well in some areas, struggling in others? Success in one area shows he has the intelligence and maturity to read, but he might have a learning disability that prevents him from recognizing word sounds and linking them to letters.

  • Can she decode grade-level texts as well as write simple, coherent sentences? At this age, a child should be reading on her own, as well as writing about what she has read, using accurate spelling. If her progress in acquiring these basic skills is slow, she lacks strategies for reading new words, or she stumbles when confronted with multi-syllable words, you need to find out if this is because of a learning disability.

  • Does he mispronounce long, unfamiliar words? Speech should be fluent. A child who hesitates often, peppering his speech with “ums” and pauses or struggles to retrieve words or respond when asked a question, is sending important clues about a possible learning disability.

  • Does she rely heavily on memorization instead of learning new skills? By 3rd grade, your child should be able to summarize the meaning of a new paragraph she just read, as well as predict what will happen next in the story.

  • Is his handwriting messy, even though he can type rapidly on a keyboard? Misshapen, wobbling handwriting can be a sign that your child is not hearing the sounds of a word correctly, and therefore is unable to write them down.

  • Does she avoid reading for pleasure? And when she does, does she find it exhausting and laborious? This could be a sign of a learning disability.

What to Do

Schedule a conference with your child’s teacher, the school support staff, and your pediatrician to get their perspectives on whether your child has a learning disability. Together, you can decide if your child should be formally evaluated for a learning disability or if other steps can be taken first — perhaps moving him to a smaller class, switching teaching styles, or scheduling one-on-one tutoring or time in the resource room.

Don’t be shy about asking questions: Is your child’s progress within the normal range? Why is he having all this trouble? Should you consult another learning disability specialist (a neurologist, a speech-and-language expert)? Trust your gut. If you’re not getting the answers you need, find someone who can give them to you. Meanwhile, at home:

  • Help your child flourish: She needs to know that you love her no matter what, so put her weaknesses into perspective for her. Empathize with her frustration (remind her of some of your own school difficulties), and reassure her that you’re confident she will learn to deal with it.

  • Focus on what he does right and well: Does he love to paint or play baseball? Make sure he has many opportunities to pursue and succeed in those activities, and let him overhear you tell Grandma how well he played in the last game. Prominently display his trophies or ribbons.

  • Start a folder of all letters, emails, and material related to your child’s education. Include school reports as well as medical exams.

  • Collect samples of your child’s schoolwork that illustrate her strengths as well as her weaknesses.

  • Keep a diary of your observations about your child’s difficulties in and out of school.

  • Help him set up a work area at home as well as the materials he needs to study.

  • Show her how to organize her backpack and how to use a plan book for assignments.

  • Coordinate with teachers so you can practice at home the skills he learns at school.                                                         http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/learning-disability/

Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child.

PBS’ Reading Rockets has great information for parents who want an independent test for their child in the article, Having Your Child Tested for Learning Disabilities Outside of School:

You can find the names of professionals to choose from in local phone books, from a list provided by the school, or from people you know. LD OnLine also lists professionals in its Yellow Pages.

Although you definitely want to work with someone who makes you and your child feel comfortable, that’s not enough. Here are some questions to ask and points to keep in mind when deciding which professional to choose.

Are you licensed or certified?

Many professionals can suspect LD and/or ADHD, but not all of them are licensed or certified to diagnose these disorders.

When you go to a person in private practice (i.e., someone who is not employed by the school system), it’s important to determine if the professional has the needed license to be in private practice and to make the diagnosis of LD or ADHD. Most states require the license of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and lawyers to be in clear view in their offices.

What areas do you specialize in?

Ask the person, “What is your area of expertise?” This could include learning disabilities, ADHD, speech and hearing, legal issues, behavior modification, education, emotional concerns, family counseling, and more. Consider which experience and expertise is most appropriate for your child’s situation.

What age range do you specialize in?

The person could specialize in working with preschoolers, children, adolescents, or adults. It’s important to choose a professional who is used to working with children of your son’s or daughter’s age.

What are your fees?

Ask the person what his or her hourly rate is and how an hour is defined. Some use a 45 or 50 minute hour (this is so they have time to write notes about the session). You may also want to ask whether appointments can be broken up into smaller blocks, what happens if you miss a scheduled appointment, whether there is a sliding fee scale, and if a payment plan can be set up.

Will you accept my insurance or HMO coverage?

Not all professionals will take insurance and not all insurance will pay for the professional’s fee. If money is an issue, you need to know upfront if your insurance or HMO will pay for the professional’s fees and whether the professional will accept your insurance. Also ask if the office will submit bills to the insurance company or if you will need to do so.

Will I get a written report?

If you need a written report for an upcoming meeting with the school, make sure the person will be able to meet your deadline. Determine how long it usually takes to get a written report and whether the cost of the report is included in the estimated charge.

Will you coordinate with the school?

Ask if the person will go to the school for meetings if needed and how that time will be billed. Find out if the person will coordinate the work he or she is doing with your child with what your child’s classroom teacher is doing in school.

What range of services do I need?

Think about whether you need someone to just do testing, whether you need someone who can also work with the school, and whether your child needs a few sessions or many.

What information can I gather to help with the diagnosis?

Look for your child’s school records, work samples, past assessments, and teacher comments, all of which may help the professional gain information on how to assess or help your child.

How should I explain this to my child?

Ask the person for advice on how you can talk to your child about his or her need for testing, counseling, or educational intervention.

Do I want to interview more than one professional to determine the best one for my child’s needs?

Yes. Unless you have a strong recommendation from a close friend or from the school, it is wise to interview more than one person before making a decision.

Related links

For more information about testing for learning disabilities, go to:

To learn to understand and use your child’s test results, go to

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/4529/

Resources:

Early warning signs of a learning disability                          http://www.babycenter.com/0_early-warning-signs-of-a-learning-disability_67978.bc

How to know if your child has a learning disability http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/advice/how-to-know-if-your-child-has-a-learning-disability/2012/05/08/gIQAvzLvAU_story.html

If You Suspect a Child Has a Learning Disability http://www.ncld.org/parents-child-disabilities/ld-testing/if-you-suspect-child-has-learning-disability

Learning Disabilities in Children                                http://www.helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities.htm

Learning Disabilities (LD)                                                       http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

3 Responses to “Survey: Most people don’t know what a learning disability is”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] Schools often test children to determine whether a child has a learning disability. Often parents may want to have an independent evaluation for their child. https://drwilda.com/2012/09/02/survey-most-people-dont-know-what-a-learning-disability-is/ […]

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