Tuesday, June 17, 2008

They can be taught.

This week, I read about a young man by the name of Benjamin Bolger, who has 11 advanced degrees. He is an incredibly accomplished person who had such horrible dyslexia that his mother had to remove him from school to homeschool him.

About 15% to 20% of the population has dyslexia, which affects the way people perceive and process words, says Howell, director of the Michigan Dyslexia Institute. She says dyslexia is not a problem of intelligence, but those affected need to be taught to read and write in a different way than their peers, and don't always get that help.

Bolger says he reads at an elementary school level. He has gotten through much of his education with the help of his mother, Loretta Bolger, who reads books out loud to him and types papers he dictates. He also uses books on tape and has learned to skim books very effectively.

People who have learning disabilities are not incapable of learning. It would be better to think of a learning disability as a preference to learn in a non-standard way. Dyslexics need to have information presented so that they can hear the information they need. Auditory processing disorder means the opposite: materials should be presented visually and not spoken, as much as possible. ADHD students need to be provided with strategies for learning and and presented with organizational methods. They also need time and space to move around.

Very seldom are these children so lucky to be given the accomodations they need. They are often left in a regular classroom where they are overwhelmed with material they are supposed to know but have no way of processing. When they are given appropriate accomodations, they can be quite capable and achieve a lot. When they aren't given accomodations, they are left feeling incapable and unintelligent. They are robbed of the opportunity to live up to their full potential.

1 comment:

Gina said...

I really like the example you gave. True learning disabilities are life long conditions that do not go away, although individuals can learn to compensate for them and live up to their potential through the appropriate guidance and support of others in their lives. When educators don't use effective strategies to help the student understand their own unique learning style the impacts are damaging.