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Disabled or Different?

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    November 19, 2012 Disabled or Different? Learning disabilities affect 2. 4 million students currently in the U. S (General LD, n. d). A learning disability (LD) is a neurological disorder that affects how one’s brain is able to receive, process, store, and respond to information (General LD, n. d). Although their brains process information differently those who have learning disabilities have a normal or above average IQ. Now that there is more knowledge regarding LD’s, children are typically diagnosed early on in school.

    However, studies have shown boys are usually diagnosed younger than girls. This diagnosis may affect children’s self-esteem if not handled properly. Luckily, educational systems are more than ever prepared to help these children learn. So how does being diagnosed with a learning disability affect a child’s self-esteem? There are many factors that need to be considered when asking this, for instance, how are the parents handling the diagnosis? If they are overly dramatic and treating it as the end of the world, then the child’s self-esteem will most likely plummet.

    If the parent is relatively calm and explains properly what the diagnosis means then the child’s self-esteem will not drop nearly as much. It also depends on how old the child is when diagnosed. Even though children are now typically diagnosed early on in elementary school, girls are often diagnosed later than boys (Bedrosian, 2012). This is thought to be because girls at this age will try to hide the difficulties they are experiencing and find ways to compensate for them (Bedrosian, 2012).

    This may prevent them from being properly diagnosed until middle school (Bedrosian, 2012). The older the child is when diagnosed the more their self-esteem may be affected. What kids with learning disabilities need to know is that they’re not disabled they just learn differently. This is not something that will own them; they can overcome it with hard work. When first diagnosed children may experience a drop in self-esteem but once properly taught coping skills their self-esteem will increase as they overcome learning barriers.

    Another aspect that could affect a child’s self-esteem is what their schools policy is regarding mainstreaming students with learning disabilities into regular classrooms. This topic still remains controversial with two main sides. On one side, people believe that the least restrictive environment is best for these special learners (Heward, 2006). There is even a movement toward full inclusion of all students with disabilities into regular class rooms (Heward, 2006). Those who oppose this movement fear that if this takes place children with LD’s won’t receive the in depth learning they need (Heward, 2006).

    There needs to be a balance between the two sides. Children with learning disabilities still have an average intelligence so full exclusion is not necessary but full inclusion may be damaging to their overall learning. These kids should spend as much time in the class room with their peers as possible and be removed at strategic times for more in-depth instructions. This allows those who suffer from learning disabilities to get the education they need without being isolated from others.

    It is also important to think of how this decision will affect the child’s self-esteem. If kids are fully excluded from their peers they will feel isolated, which will lower their self-esteem. However, if kids with LD’s are fully mainstreamed into regular class rooms this could also negatively affect their self-esteem. They may not understand topics in class that their peers fully understand. This could discourage them from asking questions or voicing their confusion in fear of appearing stupid in front of their classmates.

    As you can see it is best for children with learning disabilities to be in their class rooms as much as possible but be pulled aside for more in-depth teaching. Regardless of which policy is best, all schools in the U. S have Special Education teachers and set plans for students with learning disabilities to ensure their success in school. The educational system is more than ever prepared to teach kids with these various learning disabilities the coping methods they need to know in order to be successful students.

    Those who are diagnosed with a learning disability by law have to have an IEP & 504 plan in place (General LD, n. d). This formal plan is uniquely shaped around each individual student and describes how the school will be supporting the child’s educational needs (General LD, n. d). This document gives the educational system and the parent the ability to work together (General LD, n. d). Students with learning disabilities also see Special education teachers who are specifically trained on teaching students the skills they need to become successful students and citizens.

    One example of a skill they are passing on is sounding words out. Many teachers incorporate this with tapping or clapping a word out. Students that learn this are able to pronounce bigger words with less stress by breaking the word down and sounding the individual factors of the word out. For example reading the word Mississippi would look like; Mississippi; miss-is-sip-pi. By learning these coping methods children will feel a sense of accomplishment by being able to learn and understand material better which will increase their self-esteem.

    The educational systems are doing a great job effectively teaching students with learning disabilities. Other ways the school systems and parents can help those with LD’s is good communication. When the educational system and the parent of the child work together they will better understand where the child is mentally and may catch flaws in the system that need attention. For example, if the child comes home and the mother asks what they learned today and he or she responds; we went over division but I didn’t really understand it, then the parent can mention it to the school.

    It is important for every parent to be involved in their child’s education but is crucial for parents of children with learning disabilities to make sure their children are getting the help they need. With the rising number of Learning Disabilities being seen in the U. S. having a system intact that works is important. I was diagnosed at 6 years old with Dyslexia, the most common learning disability. By that time, there was enough information regarding learning disabilities that I was able to receive the help I needed to be a successful student.

    On the other hand, my father wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until he was in high school. By this time he had already become so frustrated with school that he dropped out. He has extreme difficulty reading and writing which makes many people believe he is not intelligent and has cost him many jobs. Because of this he made sure that my brother and I were tested for this disability young and that we received the help we needed from the educational system. He was fully invested in our future and our education like every parent needs to be and gave us the support we needed to be successful.

    I saw every special education teacher in my elementary school in order to develop coping methods for my disability. Thanks to a great IEP plan and a great father I was able to cope with my Dyslexia and seek higher education without fear that my disability would get in my way. Every child deserves a great education like the one I received and ultimately it’s up to the parents to ensure this happens. References Bedrosian, J. (2012, January). Boys vs. girls do they learn differently? Washington Parent. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://www. washingtonparent. com/articles/1201/gender. php General LD info. n. d. ). National Center for learning disabilities. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://www. ncld. org/types-learning-disabilities/what-is-ld Heward, W. L. (2006). Should all students with learning disabilities be educated in the regular classroom? Education. com. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from http://www. education. com/reference/article/learning-disabilities-regular-class/? page=2 Logsdon, A. (n. d. ). Top four ways to support your LD child’s self-esteem. About. com. Retrieved November 14, 2012, from http://learningdisabilities. about. com/od/instructionalmaterials/tp/selfesteem. htm

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