An Encouraging Story: A Learning Disability
Doesn't Mean A Student Can't Excel
by Roz Abrams, ABC, September 19, 2002
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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
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
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