Jennifer is 11 and bright, yet has difficulty learning some things because she has a learning disability. She may not always know her left from her right, but she is determined to learn how to dance!
In first grade, Jennifer began to have trouble learning to read and write. She had a hard time keeping up with the rest of the kids in her class. Jennifer became very frustrated and consequently did not want to go to school anymore.
“I was always trying as hard as I could,” says Jennifer. “It’s just that what I thought was right usually came out wrong!” Jennifer’s first grade teacher noticed that Jennifer was having problems learning but knew that her difficulties were not due to laziness or lack of effort. She suggested to Jennifer’s parents that Jennifer be tested for a possible learning disability. Jennifer’s parents knew the importance of identifying a learning disability early because her mother’s brother, Joe, also has a learning disability. The Hausers knew how important it was for their daughter to receive the help she needed in order to achieve her full potential.
After Jennifer had been tested and diagnosed as having a learning disability, Jennifer’s parents met with her teacher, resource teacher, and assistant principal. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss learning strategies which could be implemented to help Jennifer succeed in school. Together, they developed a special learning program, called an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), which outlines goals and objectives as well as specific strategies for Jennifer. Simply stated, the IEP tells what she will learn, how and where she will learn it and is updated annually. The group also agreed to meet again to review progress and modify strategies when necessary. Jennifer attends these meetings and contributes her thoughts about her IEP.
Her experience with a resource teacher, Ms. Ricci, helped Jennifer to realize that she was a bright child who learned in a different way. Since Jennifer began working with Ms. Ricci, her performance at school has vastly improved.
There are many kinds of learning disabilities. Jennifer was tested and diagnosed as having a visual perception problem. Jennifer sometimes has trouble reading and writing letters in the correct order within words. The letters may flip, rotate or change sequence. She also has a directional problem. This means she has trouble automatically distinguishing left from right. That’s why she wears a ring on her right hand. It helps her to differentiate her left from her right.
Jennifer has many friends and an active social life. Her best friends are Melody James and Brenda Dubrowski. Jerome is her pen pal. Her favorite subjects in school are science and math. She likes playing soccer and listening to music. Jennifer’s favorite foods are cinnamon toast and celery with peanut butter!
Jennifer has discovered that having a learning disability is nothing to be embarrassed about. Instead, Jennifer talks openly about it, allowing children to see that having a learning disability is no big deal. She says, “Some things I learn slowly and some things I learn quickly, but I am able to learn just about anything. I just learn in a different way. Ms. Ricci teaches me the way I learn best.”
Another web site to visit:
The Learning Disabilities Association of Ottawa-Carleton