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Learning Disability Module


Perceptions and Myths

Some students with LD enrolled in higher education institutions express feelings of being misunderstood and needing to work harder than their nondisabled peers (Denhart, 2008). Others describe experiences of being regarded as intellectually inferior, incompetent, lacking effort, or attempting to cheat or use unfair advantages when requesting accommodations. Students with LD are often judged as lazy or not trying hard enough by professors who believe students use LD as an excuse to avoid course work (Lock & Layton, 2001). Fearing stigma and misunderstanding, some students with LD may avoid using their legally mandated accommodations that could assist with access to course content and juggling the workload of postsecondary classes (Denhart, 2008).

LD is not synonymous with “slow learner” or “intellectual impairment.” By definition, individuals with LD have average to above average intelligence, and some can be gifted (Lindstrom, 2007; Lyon, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 2003). LD is mainly the inability to encode/decode symbol systems and is not reflective of a student’s potential.

LD is an ongoing neurological condition that continues across an individual’s life span and can adversely affect academic performance, work success, and interpersonal relationships (Morris, Schraufnagel, Chudnow, & Weinberg, 2009).



Denhart, H. (2008). Perceptions of students labeled with learning disabilities in higher education. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41, 483- 497. Retrieved from http://ldx.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/41/6/483

Lindstrom, J. (2007). Determining appropriate accommodations for postsecondary students with reading and writing expression disorders. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 22(4), 229-236.

Lock, R., & Layton, C. (2001). Succeeding in postsecondary ed through self-advocacy. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34, 66-67.

Lyon, G. R., Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2003). Defining dyslexia, comorbidity, teachers’ knowledge of language and reading: A definition of dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 53, 1-14.

Morris, M. A., Schraufnagel, C., Chudnow, R., & Weinberg, W. (2009). Learning disabilities do not go away: 20- to 25-year study of cognitive, academic achievement, and affective illness. Journal of Child Neurology, 24(3), 323- 332. Retrieved from http://jcn.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/24/3/3233


Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2011). Learning Disabilities (LD) Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/learning-disability-module.