Diverse Abilities

Gina Martin

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Learning Disabilities

A teenage boy (looking discouraged) sits at a desk with his elbows on the desk and his hands holding his head as it hangs. There is a notepad with a pen on the desk.

According to Easter Seals of Canada, approximately 22% of our population in Canada live with a learning disability. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia are some examples. Learning disabilities have nothing to do with intelligence or psychiatric conditions. Many people with learning disabilities are bright and successful professionals. A learning disability can affect a person’s concentration, sequencing, memory, the ability to read, write, count, take notes, or follow directions. Many learning disabilities go undiagnosed for years.

Helpful tips

Avoid trying to cure the disability. That cannot be done, but there are techniques for helping people with learning disabilities to learn, work, and function effectively in their lives and in society.

The more you learn about the disability, the easier it will be to be patient and to understand what is going on for that individual.

Be prepared to provide information in alternative format, for example writing directions down verses giving directions verbally.

If the individual is a child, be very encouraging and supportive. This is an uphill battle, but in most cases, it can be won.

Ask the person with the learning disability how to best accommodate their needs. (Remember they are experts on their condition.)

Become accustomed to providing information in the format and structure that is most effective and appropriate for the individual to use.

Because learning disabilities are non-apparent, they can be difficult to recognize. Having patience, optimism, and a willingness to find creative solutions are your best tools.

There are many tools, devices, and techniques that help people function better in life. It may take time to figure out what works best, and getting connected with others in similar situations can be a huge benefit to finding new ways to make life easier.

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