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Busting the Myths About Learning Disabilities

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · February 12, 2020

Did you know that, in the 2010 Census, a whopping 4.6 million Americans reported having a learning disability? Even if you don’t necessarily notice them in people around you, there is a good chance that multiple people you interact with in a school, professional or personal environment are living with learning disabilities. Despite how common they are, many myths about learning disabilities lead to judgment and stigma.

Myth #1: Learning disabilities are the result of a lack of parent involvement, eating a poor diet or watching too much television.

In reality, the specific origin of many learning disabilities is not known. Studies have found that neurological differences in brain structures and functions affect how a person with a learning disability perceives, stores, processes, communicates and retrieves information. Having a learning disability does not mean that you did anything “wrong” or that there is a quick fix.

Myth #2: People with learning disabilities are not smart and have lower IQs.

This is one of the most harmful myths about learning disabilities, and it could not be further from the truth. Learning disabilities are not caused by having a low IQ or less intelligence. People with learning disabilities are also incredibly smart and can learn, they just might learn differently than people without a learning disability.

Myth #3: People with learning disabilities are lazy.

Another damaging myth about learning disabilities is that people with them are lazy or don’t work hard. People with these challenges often have to work much harder to learn and perform in a traditional school or educational environment, but their results will not always reflect that level of effort. In reality, many students with learning disabilities work so hard without results that they become discouraged, which might appear to be a lack of motivation.

Myth #4: You can outgrow a learning disability. 

While learning disabilities are often most noticeable in school, they can last with you your entire life and affect every part of your life. Through interventions and work with a therapist, many adults learn how to use their strengths to compensate for learning disabilities as they age and find work environments that allow them to thrive. Did you know that Keira Knightly, Richard Branson, Jay Leno and Albert Einstein all had learning disabilities?

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