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FRCC Celebrates National Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

Anyone who has gone to school is probably aware that no two people learn alike, and that every student has a unique approach and background that contributes to how they absorb information.

For students with learning and thinking differences, school can present a number of challenges because their brains work differently from many of their peers.

Founded in 1985 under President Ronald Reagan, October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, which aims to educate and raise awareness about the unique differences of various learning disabilities. The National Institutes of Health describes learning disabilities as disorders that affect one’s ability to read, speak, write, do math, focus and coordinate bodily movements.

To celebrate, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) kicked off its campaign this week, called “Lead with LD.” The goal: to reshape people’s perceptions around learning disabilities in order to foster better understanding, empathy and support for those who have them.

Who Has Learning Disabilities?

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Learning disabilities affect many people, including about 10% of American children. About 15% of US students ages 3-21—or 7.3 million people—received disability services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the 2021-2022 academic year, and nearly one-third (32%) had learning disabilities.

Although learning disabilities are caused by differences in the brain and often, how it functions, they aren’t an indicator of intelligence. In other words, they’re not the same thing as intellectual and developmental disabilities, which are often diagnosed through a test of intelligence of cognition.

What Are Some Specific Types of Learning Disabilities?

Some of the most common types of learning disabilities are:

  • Dyslexia, which creates challenges with word recognition, reading words accurately and fluently, spelling and understanding sentences.
  • Dysgraphia, which is characterized by problems with handwriting and/or spelling.
  • Dyscalculia, which makes understanding math concepts and calculations difficult.
  • Apraxia of speech, which causes an individual trouble saying what they want to say.
  • Central auditory processing disorder, which causes difficulty explaining things, understanding jokes and following directions.
  • Nonverbal learning disorders, which might look like clumsiness or trouble following multistep directions.

Some people might have multiple learning disabilities—and disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) tend to appear more often among those with learning disabilities. ADHD is considered a disability (but not a learning disability) and can make it difficult to focus, plan ahead, regulate emotions and stay organized.

Dispelling the Myths

There are many persistent myths about learning disabilities. Here are a few you might have heard:

Most People With Learning Disabilities Have Low IQs

Learning disabilities are neurological and not related to intelligence. That means even those with severe learning disabilities can be highly intelligent—and in fact, many with learning disabilities often have average or above-average intelligence.

Learning Disabilities Are Really About Lack of Motivation/Laziness

The opposite is generally true, actually. People with learning disabilities have to put in a lot of effort to do many things—often more than their peers without disabilities. Symptoms vary depending on the learning disability, but issues like poor attention, disorganization and low self-control are common. And of course, those traits tend to create other problems.

People Find Out Early If They Have a Learning Disability

The reality is that learning disabilities can vary greatly in severity, making it easy for them to go undiagnosed for years. This leads to a mismatch between an individual’s potential and their skills—and wrong assumptions about their abilities by teachers, parents, bosses and peers.

People Outgrow Learning Disabilities by Young Adulthood

Unfortunately, learning disabilities don’t go away as people get older. For students, that means it is incredibly important to develop strategies—and seek support—to manage them.

FRCC’s Support Systems for Students with Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are disabilities. And that means at FRCC, students who have them are eligible for Disability Support Services (DSS). If you have a documented learning (or other type of) disability, the friendly, helpful team at DSS can help you learn more about accommodations that might help you learn and succeed. Those might include extended testing time or a reduced distraction environment—but there are lots of others!

Whether you have a learning disability or you’re not sure, the best thing to do is reach out. The DSS staff can help you find out if you qualify for services and get you started on the intake process so you can line up the resources you need to do well in your classes. Contact 303-404-5533 or to get started.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Learning disabilities can make college a challenge, but that doesn’t mean students who have them can’t succeed. Accommodative services and supports can make a tremendous difference, so don’t be afraid to reach out to learn more.

During National Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and always, you have many people behind you at FRCC. Advocate for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!  

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