One out of five kids in the U.S. has a learning or attention disability (Source). These disabilities are common but often misunderstood.
This article will debunk five myths related to academic performance. It will also explain how the online master's in teaching program at the University of Redlands will prepare you to improve learning for all students.
Myth #1: Kids with attention and learning disabilities are less intelligent than their peers without disabilities.
Actually, they are just as smart. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, these children have average or above-average intelligence (Source).
Attention and learning disabilities don’t affect IQ. Instead, they affect one's ability to receive, process, and relay information (Source). As a result, it may be difficult for a child with an attention or learning disability to learn some basic and higher-level skills, like reading or time management (Source).
A child with a learning disability will need help learning how to learn. With the support of a special education teacher, the child can make significant progress. (Source).
The role of the special education teacher is to make learning more accessible. To make that happen, they can apply a variety of strategies. Academic instruction, behavioral interventions, and classroom accommodations are just a few examples (Source).
You’ll learn a variety of evidence-based approaches in Redlands’ online master's in teaching program, such as:
- Breaking down learning into smaller steps
- Offering regular feedback
- Using visuals to communicate instructions
With guidance from a special education teacher, California children with attention and learning disabilities have equal potential to succeed at school and beyond.
Myth #2: A child with a learning disability will grow out of it.
Many people believe learning disabilities can be cured or simply disappear with age. According to a recent report, nearly half of parents think children can outgrow a learning disability (Source). These beliefs are incorrect and can prevent children with learning disabilities from receiving the early intervention they need.
In reality, the symptoms of a learning disability can become more apparent as a child gets older. As tasks and environments become more demanding, the effects of learning disabilities can intensify. That’s why early intervention is so critical to academic success. Research shows that the sooner a child with a learning disability receives support, the more positive the outcome (Source).
Support from special education teachers and family members is crucial. However, successful outcomes also depend on a child's ability to advocate for themselves. Kids with learning disabilities are more likely to make academic progress when they can explain their disability to teachers (Source).
Yet, many don’t know how or are uncomfortable doing so. Just one out of four college students with learning disabilities tell their school (Source). A special education teacher should not only support a child’s learning but help them build confidence and self-esteem. With a firm understanding of their learning disability and a strong self-image, children can also advocate for their success at school.
Myth #3: ADHD is a learning disability.
Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is an attention disability. Attention disabilities are not learning disabilities. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), attention disabilities are considered Other Health Impairments. This group of disabilities affects strength, vitality, and alertness (Source).
For children with ADHD, symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (Source). ADHD can make learning problematic in general education classrooms, where students are expected to focus, listen and participate only when called upon.
So, what’s the role of the special education teacher? He or she can help a child manage their ADHD and become more engaged in learning (Source). Redlands’ online master’s in teaching program will train you to do just that. Candidates learn a variety of strategies, from developing and encouraging positive behaviors to offering accommodations.
Myth #4: Children with ADHD are unmotivated.
Children with ADHD aren’t unmotivated or lazy. Every child, whether or not they have a disability, wants to achieve a positive outcome.
Individuals with ADHD have difficulty with executive functioning, which are the mental processes that help us self-regulate and complete tasks. Organization, planning, and attention are examples. A child with ADHD might struggle with disorganization, appear to be daydreaming, or impulsively express frustration about a task (Source). Some people might mistake these effects for lack of motivation.
Special education teachers are trained to help children with ADHD develop positive behaviors. Verbal reinforcement is one approach. They can also teach organization skills, like time management and planning (Source).
Myth #5: Accommodations give children with attention and learning disabilities an unfair advantage.
The goal of special education teachers is to ensure that every learner can achieve positive learning outcomes. To make that happen, they use a variety of tools and strategies. Accommodations is just one.
Depending on the child’s disability, a special education teacher might give frequent breaks, allow for verbal responses, or read instructions aloud. These accommodations don’t give an unfair advantage. Instead, they make learning more accessible.
The online master’s in teaching program at Redlands will teach you about all the tools and strategies available to special education teachers. You’ll learn not only to design and implement academic and behavior interventions but to monitor a child’s progress, so you can continually improve their learning.
Complete Your Online Master’s in Teaching Program at Redlands
With all the myths about children with disabilities, special education teachers must be trained as educators as well as advocates. This is the focus of Redlands’ online master’s in teaching program.
The Online Master of Arts in Learning and Teaching will empower you to advocate for all learners and prepare you to serve students with mild/moderate disabilities in public and private K-12 classrooms.
Unlike other online master’s in teaching programs, Redlands’ integrates the State of California’s Education Specialist Preliminary Credential. You’ll broaden your understanding of education theory and build competencies through hands-on practice.
The innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum will teach you to:
- Explore historical and contemporary perspectives of cultural diversity, special education, and inclusion
- Design, implement, and assess differentiated culturally responsive teaching practices
- Apply advanced techniques for utilizing student assessment data
- Design, conduct, interpret, and report on research and assessments
- Understand ethical decision-making aligned with the goals of educational justice