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About Learning Disabilities

PUC is committed to working with the many capable college students who are challenged by a specific learning disability or learning difference. We recognize that students may sometimes need academic support and personal encouragement to realize their potential.

At PUC we would like to help you reach your personal as well as your academic potential. We can do this by helping you to identify and understand the particular learning challenge you face, introducing you to techniques which will help you learn more effectively, providing you with testing and learning accommodations, and cheering you along.

School is tough enough without unique academic obstacles thrown in your way. But over and over again, students prove that it can be done (and that the road was well worth it!). Creativity, courage, and compassion are often particularly strong characteristics that individuals with learning disabilities must develop to endure. These personal qualities, along with a solid academic foundation, can increase your chances to succeed in ways others will never realize.

So What's Causing the Problem?

There are two basic neurologically based categories of disorders that are recognized and addressed by medical and academic research and by the federal government's laws protecting individuals with disabilities. The two conditions are referred to as learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders. These traits are often passed down through families. New research has located actual differences in brain metabolism and/or structure in individuals with learning and attention disabilities.

Research also indicates that there are no reliable cures that will take a learning disability away. Yes–that really stinks! However, there are methods to teach you and help you compensate by using your strengths to learn. Changes in instructional methods, study habits, learning environments, technology, and educational materials can help you to succeed. Those with attention problems can often be treated by medication that corrects the neurochemical imbalance affecting attention and concentration. Medication will not "cure" all the difficulties, but it might improve concentration just enough so a student can learn how to learn!

Understanding the obstacles is part of the battle strategy. In doing so, you have already begun to write your own totally unique success story. We have a goal in mind and the tools in place, so let's start writing that great story!

Tackling the Obstacles!

Meeting the challenges of dyslexia and other specific earning disabilities at PUC.

The adventure begins here! Sometimes it's a lot easier to run from a problem than to face it. But very few dragons have ever been slain while the knight stayed hidden behind a locked door. The time has come to step out into the open and take a long, hard look at learning disabilities.

Learning Disabilities Definitions

Learning disabilities are often not recognized by educators and parents. That's unfortunate, but it's easy to see why. Because they are not visibly obvious like a physical impairment, learning disabilities can slip through the cracks. These "invisible" disabilities are a heterogeneous and diverse group of disorders which manifest themselves in interference with the ability to perceive, comprehend, process, sort, store, or retrieve information. There are specific names for some specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia (language-based disorders), dysgraphia (writing disorders), and dyscalculia (mathematical-based disorders).

Because learning encompasses many complex neurological processes, the manifestation of a learning disability may be traced to a variety of causes and result in a unique cluster of symptoms for each individual. While some individuals have difficulty with reading, many do not. Most dyslexic individuals do not reverse letters and numbers as commonly thought. There are those students whose symptoms also include difficulty with organization, time management and communication/relationships. Specific abilities frequently vary. Most often a student with LD will exhibit high accomplishment in one area and mediocre performance or failure in another. For instance, a student may be highly verbal and articulate but be unable to spell the simplest words or write a complete sentence. Contrasts in abilities are evident in many famous, accomplished individuals like former Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller, whose dyslexia prohibited his ability to read speeches but did not interfere with his effectiveness in communication to the nation.

Learning disabilities are often mistaken for other nonvisible disabilities. It is important to understand that a learning disability is NOT mental retardation or a below average IQ.; it is NOT an emotional disturbance; it is NOT a sensory deficit; it is NOT the result of a poor educational or environmental background. These factors may coexist with a learning disability but are not the causes of the disability.

Learning Disabilities Symptoms

The following symptoms are characteristic of college students with learning disabilities described by Adelman and Olufs (1992). Naturally, no student will have all of these problems.

Study Skills

  • Inability to change from one task to another
  • No system for organizing notes and other materials
  • Difficulty scheduling time to complete short- and long-term assignments
  • Difficulty completing tests and in-class assignments without additional time
  • Difficulty following directions, particularly written directions

Interpersonal Skills

  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulty finding resolution to a problem
  • Disorientation in time – missed classes and appointments
  • Poor self-esteem

Reading

  • Difficulty reading new words, particularly when sound/symbol relationships are inconsistent
  • Slow reading rate – takes longer to read a test and other in-class assignments
  • Poor comprehension and retention of material read
  • Difficulty interpreting charts, graphs, and/or scientific symbols
  • Difficulty with complex syntax on objective tests

Writing

  • Problems in organization and sequencing of ideas
  • Poor sentence structure
  • Incorrect grammar
  • Frequent and inconsistent spelling errors
  • Difficulty taking notes
  • Poor letter formation, capitalization
  • Inadequate strategies for monitoring written work

Oral Language

  • Difficulty concentrating in lectures, especially 2- to 3-hour lectures
  • Poor vocabulary, difficulty with word retrieval
  • Problems with grammar

Math

  • Slow to develop math problem-solving skills
  • Difficulty in recalling numbers in sequence
  • Trouble with concept of time
  • Poor sense of directions and map skills
  • Difficulty with long-term memory of concepts
  • Poor mental math ability
  • Difficulty playing strategy games like chess, bridge, etc.

Inattention

  • Lack of attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Trouble organizing activities and finishing work
  • Often easily distracted
  • Loses things needed for tasks
  • Trouble sustaining attention on task
  • Trouble following instruction
  • Often forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity

  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  • Difficulty remaining seated
  • Restlessness
  • Often "on the go"
  • Often talks excessively

Impulsivity

  • Often blurts out answers
  • Trouble waiting one's turn
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Acts before thinking