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Tutor Training

Module 7
Learning Diabilities

A Learning Disability (LD) is a permanent disorder which affects the manner in which individuals with normal or above average intelligence take in, retain and express information. Like interference on the radio or a fuzzy TV picture, incoming or outgoing information may become scrambled as it travels between the eye, ear or skin, and the brain. This is one definition of a learning disability. Look at these additional definitions.

Abilities are frequently inconsistent, a student who is highly verbal with an excellent vocabulary has difficulty spelling simple words, a student who learns very well in lecture cannot complete the reading assignments. These striking contrasts in abilities and learning style were evident in many famous individuals. For example, Nelson Rockefeller had dyslexia, a severe reading disability, and yet he was able to give very effective political speeches.

Learning disabilities are often confused with other non-visible handicapping conditions like mild forms of mental retardation and emotional disturbances. Persons with learning disabilities often have to deal not only with functional limitations, but also with the frustration of having to "prove" that their invisible disabilities may be as handicapping as paraplegia. Thus, a learning disability does not mean the following:

Effects of Learning Disabilities on College Students

Following are characteristic problems of college students with learning disabilities. Naturally, no student will have all of these problems.

Study Skills
Interpersonal Skills
Oral Language

Developing a Tutoring Program

Before determining what to work on, both you and the student must understand the student's specific strengths and areas for improvement. Your first few sessions together should be spent discussing the student's learning disability, how it may affect him/her in school, and techniques for compensating for it. This is also the time to build trust. We believe this can be accomplished by:

Final determination of what to work on is based on the following factors:

We suggest listing information under each factor. Then use this information to determine priorities for the tutoring program. Some students may just require assistance with papers and reading assigned in their courses. Others also may want to work on supplementary materials. For example, a student planning to take a statistics course may want to review basic algebra concepts and overcome problems understanding fractions. A student with reading comprehension difficulties may want to focus on ways to improve his/her vocabulary.

There is a wealth of information regarding learning disabilities on the Internet. The following Web sites are excellent resources:

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