Learning Disabilities in Tertiary Education


Field, Sarver, & Shaw (2003) allude to the fact that one in every five children and one in every seven adults are affected by learning disabilities. About 120,000 students are diagnosed with learning disabilities every year. Furthermore, more than 30% of the students with learning disabilities do not complete their high school education. Similarly, learning disabilities lead to low self esteem and truancy among students. Hitchings et al. (2001) allege that such students tend to join groups with negative motivational cycles such as giving up on fighting towards achievement of goals in life and poor academic performance. Learning disabilities that are experienced early in life are linked to occupational and educational status in future. Additionally, lack of proper information on availability of accommodation may stop a student with learning disability from enrolling for college. Consequently when a college does not admit students with learning disabilities, it may not invest in resources meant to support students with learning disabilities. This paper seeks to determine the availability of learning resources for students with disabilities in the tertiary levels of education. Additionally, it will address the regulations and laws governing individuals with disabilities

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There are various principles meant to help students with disabilities to settle down and work hard in schools. For instance, students could be provided with supplemental instructions, mentors or instructions that are specific for every student based on their disabilities. Hitchings et al. (2001) argue that the main reason for specific instructions for students is to supplement instructions. Therefore, the initial stage is to provide more time to the student to tackle the task. Secondly, the instructions should be stated in a form that will help the student to remember the previously mastered content.  Students should also be allowed to set their own goals and monitor their progress.

As mentioned before, integrated systematic instructions could also be used to strengthen certain skills in students. This can be achieved by modifying general education practices with interventions. However, the students’ progress should be frequently monitored. Tesser (2011) asserts that special education must be collaborated with general education to link special education with traditional learning. Therefore, teachers should be well prepared and teaching strategies should be well screened to facilitate change. Following steps in instructions would help to improve the abilities of students with LD. However, formal evaluation procedures lack the specific information relating to disabilities. Therefore, there is need to evaluate the impact of the strategy model using both the quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Employing mentoring services can also help in improving the learning abilities of students with LD. They are able to relate to self-esteem and academics when they work with mentors. Tesser (2011) argues that students who are mentored by teachers demonstrate positive outcomes compared to those with no mentors. The nature of the relationship between the instructor and the student is also very significant in improving ones’ learning ability. Instructors should value their students as individual who need special help rather than seeing them as a bother. Therefore, there are specific areas that instructors should concentrate on when assisting students with LD. Hitchings et al. (2001) assert that instructors should divide students in small groups that are manageable and provide an opportunity for a closer relationship with the student. Having regular tutorials is advantageous to the students because it keeps them on track. Therefore, it is necessary to encourage students to always attend tutorial sessions as this will help them plan for various challenges.

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Trainin & Swanson (2005) argue that wellness in health is a very important factor in improving the abilities of students with LD. Students with a healthy lifestyle will have minimal stress in life and therefore they will be able to function like healthy individuals. This calls for a healthy diet and regular exercises so as to increase the energy levels as well as promote good social behavior. Reframing can also be helpful. It enables students to understand the link between emotion and behavior. Therefore, allows students to understand themselves and how to deal with others. Most students with LD have problems in developing relationships. Therefore, it is necessary to provide basic instructions for even the most common issues such as initiating a conversation or developing friendship. These skills are very important especially for students that are graduating from high school to college because living in a dormitory or a boarding school for that matter calls for proper socialization.

Additionally, individual therapy is very important in improving the life and abilities of students with LD. It helps students with sensory issues or social anxiety to calm down. Therefore, individual therapy can help students to develop friendship and work in groups with students from other backgrounds. Cognitive behavior therapy can help students acquire problem solving skills and encourage proper handling of emotions (Field, Sarver, & Shaw, 2003).

A number of laws have been enacted by the federal government to protect the interests of people with disabilities both at workplaces and schools. Some of these regulations include; Individuals with Disabilities Act, No Child Left behind Act, and the Rehabilitation Act among others. The IDEA ensures that youth with disabilities access educational services in every part of the nation. All the youth between the ages of 3 and 21 are covered under section B of act. The act was passed into law in 2004 under the Bush administration. It has specific procedures that help in the identification of students with LD (Tesser, 2011). Very many people are involved in the process to ensure that every needy student is brought under the umbrella and is able to access education.

There is a team of professionals used to look into the progress of students through secondary school. The team comes up with Individual Education Plans (IEP) to assist students with LD. These plans comprise of both short-term and long-term goals for every student and a list of specific learning services to be provided for every student. It is upon the schools to monitor, enforce and protect students with LD. Ultimately, the long term goal of the act is to provide educational results for every student with LD and to ensure that all public agencies adhere to the requirements of the program under section B of the act (Hitchings et al., 2001). 

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Conclusion and Recommendations

In the past, not very many students with LD were able to attend schools. However, due to various federal laws, every child with learning disabilities has the chance to go to school. Field, Sarver, & Shaw (2003) affirm that universities and colleges offer an integrated environment that accommodates students with different ages and enables them to expand their academic, social, leadership, and personal abilities. However, there is lack of consistency in the manner in which the colleges and universities offer support to students with LD. Moreover, some students do not have the necessary skills to enable them move from secondary to tertiary levels of education. Therefore, some students are under prepared for college education. This could be as a result of poor organizational skills, lack of enough content and skills, or low self esteem. Therefore, students should be encouraged to disclose their LD once they have been diagnosed.  Similarly, colleges should invest heavily in resources that would make it easier for students with LD to study.

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