A person with a Learning Disability (LD) is likely to have average to higher intelligence, with a weakness in some specific area of learning. While no two people have exactly the same learning issues, LDs are usually classified as a disorder in either reading, math, or writing. That is, the person performs substantially lower in one or more of these subjects than their intelligence would predict.
Having an LD can mean that there is some particular area or areas of learning that are significantly more difficult for the individual compared to other areas. Areas that may be affected include: 1. Attention 2. Language 3. Memory 4. Motor skills 5. Visual-spatial perception 6. Phonological awareness 7. Time sequence organization 8. Applying what you know to new situations 9. Processing speed
While a full assessment is necessary to verify an LD, some warning signs include: 1. Intelligent, but grades don’t show it 2. High in some subjects and low in others 3. Big difference in tasks requiring talking vs. not requiring talking 4. Big difference between talking and writing abilities 5. Big difference in knowledge of specific facts vs. ability to applylearning to new situations 6. Big difference in memory for things seen vs. things heard 7. Substantially better performance when given more time
Counseling Can Help
For adults with learning disabilities, once the specific disability is targeted, the individual can begin to better understand what aspects of a specific learning situation are causing the trouble. The client's strengths are also be highlighted. Once strengths and areas of challenges are understood, the client can learn compensatory techniques to work around the disability, while capitalizing on areas of strength. For example, a student that has difficulty processing instructions when there is background noise, can experiment with sitting in different areas of the classroom. A student with good memory for verbal material but poor memory for visual material, can practice verbalizing charts and diagrams in a way that helps them remember. In general, focused instruction and exercises, designed to improve academic skills can be employed.
Besides learning and practicing specific strategies to lessen the impact of a learning problem, clients can learn what to ask for from instructors or supervisors. Professors and employment supervisors are usually willing and often required to afford reasonable accomodations and modifications to individuals with learning disabilities. Examples of common modifications and accommodations that colleges and universities make include the use of a scribe to take notes, increased test time, being allowed to take tests orally instead of written, etc. However, it is often up to the student to start the ball rolling on receiving accommodations and modifications. The support of a licensed psychologist, who knows the system and client's rights, can be of great help.