What Are Learning Differences?
People with learning differences are intelligent. This can be confusing, because in school they might not work up to their intelligence in some areas. Because they have learning differences, their brains sometimes mix up the information they receive.
Your brain is like a gigantic file cabinet. All of the information is stored in files in the drawers. Your learning differences can misplace the files, mix up the files, or cause the drawers to get stuck so you can't get the information you are trying to find. But you are not dumb. If you were, your file cabinet would be empty!
Learning Disability Difficulties
Every person with learning disabilities (LD) is different. Some have a hard time doing one or two things. Some have a hard time doing many things. These are some of the things people with LD might have trouble with. See which ones sound like you.Difficulty with reading
You don't like to read. Letters like "b," "d," "p," and "q" often look alike to you. You know a word one time and forget it the next. Sometimes you skip words and lines on a page, or you put letter sounds into words that aren't there. You get confused when someone asks you questions about what you have read.Difficulty with spelling and writing
You learn how to spell words, but you forget them later. You can't remember if the word "they"; is spelled "thay," "thae," or "thea." You have poor handwriting. Even when you think it looks neat, the spacing is wrong and other people can't read it. Your ideas are good, but you have a lot of trouble writing them down.Difficulty with math
You put numbers in the wrong place, or you forget what step to do in a long math problem. In word problems, you don't know if you should add, subtract, multiply, or divide. You could put down the same answer to four different problems and not notice that you have done this. Sometimes you reverse numbers. It seems like you will never be able to remember all of the math facts.Difficulty with memory
You often forget what adults tell you to do. You can't remember what a word looks like when it is erased or taken away. You forget phone numbers and addresses. You say "What?" and "I don't remember." a lot. You forget the rules to games you play often.Difficulty with paying attention
It is hard to focus on your assignments. You are distracted by noises or what others are doing. Many times you interrupt people when they are talking. Adults often tell you to pay attention.Difficulty with getting and staying organized
Many times you can't find your homework, or you leave it at home. You often misplace things, and you forget where you put them. Your bedroom is messy, and when you go to clean it up, you don't know where to start. At school, your locker or desk has everything just jammed in.Difficulty with directions, time, and space
You get left and right confused. You can't remember if New York is east or west. You have trouble putting months of the year in order or knowing what season certain months go with. It is hard to copy things from a distance or from up close, like problems from a math book. Learning to tell time was difficult for you.Very active
Your hands need to fiddle with things. You have trouble sitting still. You often rock back and forth in your chair. Many times you are told to sit down. Sometimes you get in trouble for talking too much, acting silly, or interrupting.Very quiet
You'd rather watch games than play them. Many people say that you are very quiet and serious. You try to keep people from finding out about your learning differences.Difficulty with physical education
You have trouble with team sports. You get the rules mixed up, you make mistakes, and you are often picked last for teams. When you were younger, you had trouble learning to ride a bike. You knock things over or bump into things. You feel clumsy.
Just because you have learning differences doesn't mean you are dumb. It doesn't mean you can't learn. You just learn differently. Your teachers and parents need to help you learn in ways that are right for you.
Excerpted from Understanding LD* (*Learning Differences): A Curriculum to Promote LD Awareness, Self-Esteem and Coping Skills in Students Ages 8-13, by Susan McMurchie, M.A., copyright 1994. Used with permission from Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.