By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief
According to the Learning Disability Association of America (LDA), learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing problems that interfere with reading, writing and math. Students with learning disabilities can struggle with organization, time management, focusing, abstract reasoning and memory. 13 percent of public school students have a learning disability, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Students with learning disabilities have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that states their learning needs, services the school will provide and measurement of progress. IEPs are for a variety of learning disabilities, from Attention Deficit Disorder to autism to deafness, making sure no student is left behind.
WCHS has special service teachers and separate classes. Some students take tests in separate classrooms and take online classes. Most students are still in normal classes; they just have the special service rooms they can go to for extra resources. Jenn Rossman is one of the special education teachers at WCHS. She teaches resource periods, oversees students taking online courses and helps in English 10 and 11. Rossman said that processing is one of the biggest limitations she sees in students she works with.
Junior Joe Edens has Language Processing Disorder (LPD). According to the LDA, LPD is an auditory processing disorder, making it more difficult to understand language. His teachers and parents do well at helping him out, but he does stay after occasionally to get additional help.
“It’s kind of hard to focus, even when you need to pay attention. Even when sometimes you focus, you can’t understand no matter how hard you try. I still learn the information; I just have to put in more effort to understand it,” Edens said.
Edens’ determination is what allows him to be successful in the classroom,.
“Honestly, I just try and push through it. I hope for the best. That works out so far. I’m very good at history and I’m very strong at math. I feel like I’m determined to figure it out, even if it’s difficult,” Edens said.
Clark Pleasant is known for its special education program and Rossman noted many families have transferred to the school because of it.
“I feel like we really work with the student and the parents and take into consideration what their concerns are and what has worked best for them. If something doesn’t work, we meet again and we make changes,” Rossman said. “I do know a lot of students have moved to our district because of our program here in the Clark Pleasant districts.”
Accommodations are based off of the IEP, but English teacher Heath Harrison also thinks teachers need to form relationships with all students to ensure the most success in the classroom.
“Speaking to students on an individual basis, asking them what they need, talking to them about their concerns, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, but it’s about the relationship between you and the student and how you can assist them,” Harrison said.
Rossman helps her students by imagining herself in their shoes.
“I just try to put themselves in their shoes. I imagine how I would want to be treated or how I would want to have done. Even as a parent, now that I have kids, what would I want to know as a parent as far as information the teacher’s giving me. I use those past experiences and things like that to gauge how to handle things,” Rossman said.
While learning disabilities don’t reflect who one is, there is sometimes an unnecessary stigma behind having one that can lead to bullying. Every student has his or her own way of learning and can struggle, so that stigma doesn’t fit. Harrison’s dream is that one day the stigma will end.
“Most of the time other students are fair to people that have special needs or accommodations, but what would be really cool is if students supported their peers so that it wasn’t just from teacher to student, but that everybody was sort of on the same page, cheering for others,” Harrison said, “I know that’s sort of a pipe dream and maybe a little bit of a fantasy, but if students could hop on board and say, hey it’s okay. We all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses and we’re in this together. If you could have everybody on board and everybody happy and excited about it [learning], that would be amazing.”