Students with learning disabilities often learn differently than their peers. Although they have average or above average intelligence, there is frequently a discrepancy between their ability and their achievement in specific areas. Speed of information processing and memory deficits are often an issue for these students as well. Learning disabilities are presumably due to a central nervous system dysfunction. They are a permanent disorder that interferes with integrating, acquiring, and/or demonstrating verbal or nonverbal abilities and skills.
Each student with a learning disability has his/her own set of characteristics; one is not necessarily like another. These individuals, however, are often characterized by difficulty in the following areas:
- Reading comprehension
- Written expression
Keep in mind that one individual does not usually have difficulty with all of the above-mentioned areas; individuals generally experience problems in one or two areas. Also, it is not unusual for a person with a learning disability to be gifted in some areas.
Examples of some accommodations that may be assigned:
- Exam Accommodations: Assist these students in arranging for appropriate exam accommodations whether you arrange these accommodations yourself or coordinate them with Disability Resources, Education, and Access Management.
- Multi-Modal Instruction: A multi-modal approach to instruction assists these students in finding a modality that is consistent with their learning strength. Providing important information and assignments in both oral and written formats helps avoid confusion.
- Alternative Format: Some of these students need print material in an alternative format. When you are contacted by a Disability Resources staff member or student, it is important that you immediately provide information about the required textbook(s) and readings you will be using as well as any other reading expectations. It takes a considerable amount of time to convert materials into alternative format.
- Study Aids: Study questions, study guides, opportunities for questions and answers, and review sessions are helpful to this population of students.
- Exam Aids: If the accommodation is deemed appropriate by DREAM, allow these students to use simple calculators, portable spell-checkers, and scratch paper during exams.
- Flexible Exam Format: Students who have language-based and/or writing disabilities may need more time on essay exams. Others may want to tape record answers, use a scribe or use a computer.