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Last Updated: 10/31/2017
 

 Article of Interest - Learning Disabilities

An Encouraging Story: A Learning Disability Doesn't Mean A Student Can't Excel
by Roz Abrams, ABC, September 19, 2002
For more articles on disabilities and special ed visit www.bridges4kids.org


Nearly three million children in this country are classified as learning disabled, and 80 percent of them have problems reading. If dealt with properly and early enough, a potential school dropout can become an outstanding student, as Roz Abrams explains in this story.

Jonathan Mooney, Learning Disabled Student: "Experiences in school by the time I was eight years old essentially told me I had no place there, and taught me that something was inherently wrong with me."

The teachers who made Jonathan Mooney feel "crazy, lazy and dumb" were dead wrong. He was nearly a 6th grade dropout who couldn't read. Today Jonathan is an honors graduate of Brown University, with a major in English Literature. He wrote his first book at 22.

Still, Jonathan is learning disabled, reading at a 7th grader's level and spelling at a 3rd grader's level.

Mooney: "I avoid the rhetorical construct of 'This is what I have,' because it implies that I have like cancer or something like that. It's far from a disease or a deficit for that matter."

Kids with learning disabilities simply learn differently than other people. Jonathan succeeded because of a mother who advocated for him, some teachers who respected him and classroom accommodations.

Mooney: "Accommodation is a legal term, and I got books on tape, so I wasn't chilling out with 'See Spot Run' anymore, in the blue-board group, I was listening to things that were at my intellect. I got untimed or time and a half on testing. I got use of a computer. I didn't have to read out loud. And it made all the difference."

Unfortunately kids like Jonathan often aren't as learning disabled until 3rd or 4th grade, after years of frustration and failure. The New York based National Center for Learning Disabilities has developed a simple testing tool for parents and teachers to use to determine if a child has the skills necessary to learn to read. It's called "Get Ready to Read."

The test takes about 10 minutes and can be done on a computer or from a workbook. And it is time well invested.

Jim Wendorf, National Center for Learning Disabilities: "The research shows that 90 to 95 percent of all children can be brought up to grade level in reading if one intervenes by the end of 1st grade with the right kind of instructional approach."
 

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