Hidden / Invisible Disabilities

Common Myths About Learning Disabilities (LD)

Myth #1: People with learning disabilities have below average intelligence and cannot learn.

Reality: By definition, students with LD must be average or above in intelligence as measured by an individual IQ test and have a significant discrepancy between their ability and achievement. In fact, studies indicate that as many as 33% of students with LD are gifted. Students with LD can learn and succeed in college. It takes proper recognition, intervention and lots of hard work.

Myth #2: Learning disabilities are just an excuse for irresponsible, unmotivated or lazy people.

Reality: Learning disabilities are caused by neurological impairments not character flaws. LD is a permanent disorder that interferes with acquiring, integrating, and demonstrating verbal and nonverbal abilities. Students with LD process information differently. They have a different way of learning.

Myth #3: Learning disabilities only affect children. Adults grow out of learning disabilities.

Reality: We now know that LD continues throughout the individual’s lifespan. LD may intensify in adulthood as tasks and environmental demands change. Many adults have never been formally diagnosed with a learning disability. The majority of people with learning disabilities are not diagnosed until they reach adulthood.

Myth #4: Students with learning disabilities have dyslexia so they can’t read.

Reality: Dyslexia is simply one a type of learning disability. It is a specific language based disorder affecting a person’s ability to read, write and verbally express themselves. Careless use of the term has expanded it so dyslexia has become equivalent for “learning disability” for many people.

Myth #5: Students with LD are quick to reveal their status so they can have an advantage in the classroom. Does LD become a way to “work the system?”

Reality: Many students with LD do not self-disclose when they get to college. Self-disclosure is required to receive accommodations. Many students who do disclose wish to remain anonymous in the classroom.

Myth#6: Learning disabilities are only academic in nature. They do not affect other areas of a person’s life.

Reality: Many students with LD also have social problems due to difficulties reading body language and other subtle language cues that help most students understand how to appropriately interact with others. This may cause some students with LD to have trouble asking faculty for clarifications or contributing to classroom discussions.

Myth #7: Accommodations for students with LD are usually quite time-consuming for faculty.

Reality: Many accommodations take little to no time for faculty. They will benefit all students, not only the students legally entitled to them. They can help us reach more students. They can help us question/clarify the pedagogy underlying our requirements. For individual-specific requests faculty can receive help from their Disability Student Services (DSS) office.