Learning Disability Week is celebrated annually in the third week of June and this year, it takes place from June 17 to 23. The week aims to educate, spread awareness, and increase understanding of learning disabilities. People with learning disabilities are twice as likely to experience low self-esteem and self-confidence, social exclusion, and bullying that others don’t face, leading to mental health issues. Being diagnosed with a learning disability does not mean a person is not intelligent. It means they need extra support and specialized care to overcome the challenges they face in a particular subject area and learn in their unique way. If you want to learn more about learning disabilities and how you can help those affected around you, read on.
History of Learning Disability Week
Learning disabilities can be traced to brain research in the 1930s that served as the foundation for awareness of learning disabilities. Although the initial term used by Alfred Strauss and Laura Lehtinen was ‘brain-injured child,’ it was then renamed ‘minimal brain dysfunction’ before finally being known as learning disabilities.
In 1963, Samuel Kirk used the term ‘learning disabilities’ with a small group of parents and educators. Kirk is also known as the “Father of learning disabilities.” This meeting resulted in the creation of the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, which has been changed to its current name of Learning Disabilities Association of America. In 1973, a law was passed to prohibit discrimination based on disability. In 1975, the Learning Disabilities Association advocated adding certain learning disabilities to the list of disabilities in a bill signed into law. This created what is currently known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (E.H.A.) from 1975 to 1990.
The American Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to protect individuals living with disabilities from facing discrimination in finding accommodation, attending school, boarding public transportation, and finding employment. In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act was signed. In 2004, an addition was made to IDEA in response to intervention that could identify students with learning disabilities. These are just some of the exciting developments in Learning Disability Week, with more to come, so stay tuned.
Learning Disability Week timeline
Adolph Kussmaul coins the term ‘word blindness’ to describe someone who has impaired vision when reading texts but has no other problem with their sight.
The German physician Rudolf Berlin first uses the term to describe difficulty interpreting written or printed symbols.
In Cleveland, ophthalmologist Dr. Bruner publishes a report on reading difficulties encountered by children.
Samuel Kirk first uses the term ‘learning disability’ at a conference in Chicago.
Learning Disability Week FAQs
Can A.D.H.D. go away in children?
Sometimes children exhibiting A.D.H.D. symptoms can outgrow them, but others do not, and those symptoms follow them into adulthood.
Can a learning disability be managed?
Yes, some can. With the help of special education, a learning specialist such as a tutor can guide those with certain learning disabilities. Similarly, medical professionals can treat conditions like A.D.H.D.
Can a learning disability be prevented?
Unfortunately not, experts believe children are born with it due to genetics or exposure to harmful chemicals during pregnancy.
How to Observe Learning Disability Week
Lend a helping hand
Help those around you with learning disabilities by playing games and organizing activities like art, dancing, and music. This will allow them to express themselves, connect with others, feel less lonely, and boost their confidence. Volunteering to read to students who struggle with reading can also be super helpful.
Advocate on their behalf
You can help sign petitions to help safeguard those with learning disabilities and share information and resources. It is also a good time to speak up when you see any inequalities people with learning disabilities face in private and public.
People with learning disabilities are at a high risk of developing mental health issues, facing neglect, and even abuse. You can take courses and attend training to help you communicate effectively and have conversations with those affected. Training can also help you know what to do if the person is facing abuse and neglect.
5 Important Facts About Learning Disability Types
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that includes fidgeting, impulsivity, a quick temper, difficulty focusing, absentmindedness, problems paying attention, boredom, or a short attention span.
Dyslexia is a learning disability associated with reading-related difficulties, including but not limited to speech and reading delay or difficulty with memorizing spelling or thinking and understanding.
People with dyscalculia often have numeracy-related difficulties such as difficulty recognizing numbers, delay in learning to count, slow to perform calculations, a poor sense of direction, or weak arithmetic skills.
Dysgraphia is a writing difficulty that often results in unusual or distorted handwriting and can be diagnosed if a person has a cramped grip, difficulty spacing words, and letters, or problems with spelling.
Dyspraxia is a disorder that includes delays in coordination activities such as difficulty with walking, sitting, jumping, tying shoelaces, or persistent drooling, which can be due to muscle weakness or flaccid muscles.
Why Learning Disability Week is Important
It makes affected people feel seen
Learning Disability Week puts the spotlight on affected people in a good way. During this week dedicated to them, they understand that they are special and not alone in the difficulties they face.
It spreads awareness
The week allows other students, teachers, and parents to understand the unique position of affected people and find ways to help rather than mock them. This encourages them to support through tutoring, check-ins, and so on.
It promotes understanding
During the week, people become more understanding of the unique challenges and rights related to learning disabilities and mobilize all the support to make their lives easier. A greater understanding of why people may have behavioral problems is also communicated.
Learning Disability Week dates