Understanding Learning Disabilities
Individuals who have learning disabilities may exhibit a variety of difficulties, including problems with reading, spoken language, writing, or reasoning ability. Hyperactivity and inattention may also be associated with learning disabilities. Coordination, behavior, and interactions with others may also be affected.
An individual with learning disabilities may have average or above average intelligence. However, he or she may have difficulties in a classroom setting without appropriate support and accommodation.
Ways to Help
- Focus on correct answers and behaviors. Acknowledge and commend the person’s efforts.
- Encourage each person to be involved, and focus on his or her abilities.
- Build confidence by providing support and appropriate opportunities to serve.
- Prayerfully present well-prepared lessons in a variety of formats, including print, audio, and visual resources.
- Provide an environment where class members are comfortable asking questions about things they don’t understand.
- Outline the class schedule and order of events for the class time.
- Help the person feel comfortable participating in class. Give plenty of time to prepare responses, and ask the person to volunteer when ready. Offer to help the person rehearse a scripture or a response before class.
- A “read-along” technique using recorded materials may help individuals who have difficulty reading.
- Introduce and explain vocabulary before teaching a lesson. Review new words and information frequently.
- Since writing is often a challenge, offer alternatives such as working with another person, recording what you want the person to share, or letting the person verbalize ideas and responses.
- Rather than just rehearsing facts, teach by sharing experiences and feelings about the gospel. Learning is easier when people become spiritually and emotionally involved.
- Minimize distractions.
- Redirect the student’s attention when behavior is inappropriate. For example, hold up an object or picture that will remind the student of what he or she should be doing.
- When appropriate, include movement, such as an activity, as part of the lesson.
- Prayerfully strive to understand the person’s learning style and how the person best expresses what he or she knows. Play to the person’s strengths.
- Treat the person as intelligent. He or she is intelligent.
- Make accommodations as natural as possible so as to not single an individual out in front of his or her peers.
Note: Poor readers or nonreaders may not have a learning disability. For information about the Church’s basic scripture literacy materials, contact the ward Relief Society presidency.