How do young adults and their parents view their learning disabilities (LD)? And how well does the public understand them? Here are some quick facts and stats about the current state of LD.
How do parents of kids with learning disabilities feel?
The parents of kids with LD face challenges and celebrate successes on a daily basis. What they believe plays an important role in their kids’ lives. The National Center for Learning Disabilities and others in the LD field conducted independent research to gain insights into parents’ feelings and beliefs. In their report, The State of Learning Disabilities: Facts, Trends and Emerging Issues (Third Edition), they say that of the parents surveyed:
- 35 percent have serious concerns about their ability to cope with their children’s learning issues. These parents feel isolated, guilty, stressed and worried about their children’s future.
- 31 percent have conflicting feelings. These parents accept their children’s issues, but aren’t sure how to find or ask for help. They feel stressed, admit to being impatient with their children and are worried about their children’s future.
- 34 percent are optimistic about their ability to cope. These parents feel able to take on the challenges and be good advocates for their children. They don’t feel guilty, are able to manage stress and have ways of dealing with their kids’ learning and attention issues.
The bottom line is that not all parents of kids with LD see their situation the same way.
What do parents say about learning disabilities?
In a 2012 survey by NCLD, parents said living with a child who has LD can be challenging. Here are some of the issues they describe:
- 45 percent of parents say their child has been bullied.
- 66 percent think that kids with LD are bullied more than other kids.
- 37 percent say their child’s school doesn’t effectively test for LD.
Parents also say schools need to provide more help. Two out of three parents say the school doesn’t provide enough information about LD. Even so, a majority (67 percent) of parents feel comfortable talking to their child’s teacher about their concerns.
What does the public know about learning disabilities?
The public’s attitude also plays an important role in what happens to kids with LD. In a 2012 online survey by NCLD, most who responded (84 percent) see LD as a growing concern in the U.S. And about two-thirds of them know someone who has LD. The same survey found:
The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation 2010 GfK Roper Study on Public Attitudes About Children With Learning Disabilities also revealed some positive things.
- 79 percent of Americans believe that children learn in different ways.
- 96 percent of parents think that with proper teaching kids can make up for LD.
- The most positive finding: eight out of 10 people agree that “children with LD are just as smart as you and me.”
What do people get wrong about learning disabilities?
Misconceptions persist among the general public. Half of the people surveyed name medication and mental health counseling as treatments for LD. Another third think that lack of parent or teacher involvement in early childhood can cause LD. And some people think that LD is caused by a poor diet, vaccinations or too much TV. Other incorrect assumptions include:
- LD is correlated with intelligence. 70 percent of parents and educators link them to autism and intellectual disabilities.
- LD is associated with blindness and deafness.
- “Learning disability” is a label given to what is the result of laziness.
Who are the students with LD?
Here are some more interesting stats about students identified as having LD:
- 66 percent are boys. Since research shows an even split between girls and boys who have trouble with reading, this may mean many girls aren’t receiving the help they need.
- In many states, there’s an overrepresentation of black and Hispanic students identified as having LD and receiving special education services.
How are kids with LD doing in school?
- Only 12 to 26 percent of high school students with LD got average or above-average scores on math and reading assessments. Among students without LD, the rate is 50 percent.
- 33 percent of kids with LD have been held back a grade, and 50 percent were suspended or expelled from school in 2011.
- High school students with LD have a higher dropout rate than other kids. In 2011, 19 percent dropped out, while 68 percent graduated with a regular diploma. The remainder of students received a certificate of completion.
What’s happening in the real world for adults with LD?
Learning disabilities are lifelong disabilities, so they affect adults in college and the workforce, too. In the 2010 U.S. Census, 4.6 million Americans reported having LD—far more than the number who disclose their disability in college and the workplace.
In fact, survey data shows that within eight years of leaving high school, more than half of young adults with LD don’t consider themselves to have a disability. Two years after leaving high school, 52 percent of young adults no longer think so; after eight years it rises to 69 percent.
Here’s what life after high school looks like for adults with LD:
LD in College
- Only 24 percent of young adults with LD inform postsecondary schools about their needs.
- 17 percent get accommodations and support at the postsecondary level.
- 41 percent of young adults with LD complete postsecondary education within eight years of leaving high school, as compared to 52 percent of young adults without LD.
LD in the Workforce
- 46 percent of working-age adults with LD report being employed, as compared to 71 percent of adults without LD.
- 67 percent earned $25,000 or less per year within eight years of leaving high school.
- 19 percent say their employers are aware that they have LD.
- 5 percent have accommodations in the workplace.
But there is some good news. Young adults with LD are taking advantage of the community services available to them. Thirty-two percent of young people ages 16–25 who seek help from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) (agencies that help people prepare for employment and continue to be successful on the job) have LD.
As experts continue to learn more about LD, the lives of kids, parents and others affected by LD will also continue to change. Knowing more about your child’s specific issues is a good start to finding ways to help him be more successful.