• October 2, 2023

People often consider learning disabilities and other conditions that influence learning abilities “bad.” While some of these conditions can be severe and make people wish they never had them in the first place, a diagnosis is helpful, and we need to understand why.

This piece explains why a diagnosis is helpful and encourages everyone living with a learning disability. It’s never easy, but the more knowledge you (and everyone around you) have, the better you can handle any situation you face.

Learning Disabilities Impair The Ability to Learn (hence the name) 

Persons living with a learning disability may feel isolated or different and spend a significant period in their lifetime not learning as much as they should (or can) if they were given the proper support.

Let’s face it, school systems are not always structured to support students with special needs. That’s why there’s a thing called special education. What’s interesting about special education (and its protection and exclusions) is that some boxes need to be checked before one can qualify to receive it.

Picture this: a student with an undiagnosed learning disability struggling with schoolwork with no exceptions or accommodations.

What would help with this? A DIAGNOSIS

A Learning Disability Diagnosis

At different points in the evolution of our understanding of what learning disabilities are, disabilities were given different labels. More than a century ago, Adolph Kussmaul discovered one of his students could not recognize written words; this observation was characterized as a reading inability and later called word blindness. This same inability is now called dyslexia, and several more learning disabilities and their signs have been identified. For the modern-day person, the opportunity to learn is almost limitless, with or without a learning disability. With a learning disability, learning challenges increase a thousand-fold IF there is no clear diagnosis.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

An undiagnosed learning disability is like moving around with an invisible heavyweight around your ankles. Every step you take, something’s drawing you back, but you can’t see what it is…and you know you want to move so badly!

Why Put A Name to It?

Maybe not literally focusing on labels only, but identifying that something’s not right is a great first step for many reasons.  As you read earlier, people with learning disabilities will struggle with schoolwork. No, it is not that school is no good; they simply need a different structure.

A diagnosis provides a set of information that helps everyone make progress on the right path. As learning disability is an umbrella word, it covers many different learning disabilities. For every learning disability, there are a specific set of signs and information regarding that disability that sets it apart from any other kind of disability. Not only this but having that diagnosis unlocks support such as IEPs and 504s that ensure that structure can be put into place.s

The precision of a diagnosis helps people living with disabilities the most. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia are distinct learning disabilities. Suppose someone unable to read also experiences difficulty writing (or other fine motor skills like holding objects or fastening buttons on clothes). In that case, a single diagnosis of dyslexia doesn’t cover everything. Support can be offered the right way and for the right reasons as soon as the complete diagnosis is in–dyslexia and dysgraphia. Text-to-speech software or a C-pen reader are potent tools for reading if you have been diagnosed with dyslexia. Accommodations and extensions are possible in school with a formal diagnosis of a learning disability such as dyslexia. Even better, customized education programs are possible where special educators and learning specialists help you learn using various methods, including multisensory activities, collaborative classroom settings, etc.

Supportive Learning Makes ALL The Difference

No teacher, school, or expert can support you as much as possible without a diagnosis and the valuable information it provides. They simply won’t know what to do or how to do it.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

I know someone diagnosed with misophonia, and it sucks for sure but it’s manageable! While it’s hard, we also know what to do to help. In my classroom, I get several tools ready for my students with misophonia; noise-canceling earbuds, calming music playlists, noise-free areas, etc. 

I would not be able to do any of this for my students if I had no idea what their learning disability was. It sucks to have a learning disability when you’d probably prefer to be “normal” in school and at home. It gets better when you have a diagnosis and you and the people around you know what to do.

Remember that…and I hope this helps!

Desmond utilizes his knowledge of education policy from his undergrad, his Masters of Education from Johns Hopkins, and a variety of advanced certifications such as CHPC and LWT to construct prime academic intervention programs and homework/executive functioning support for all his students.

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