Advocating for Students with Learning Disabilities
By Jazzy Wright
October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, which means it is time to recognize children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities -- and the educators who serve them. The month is celebrated to bring attention to individuals that have disabilities like dyslexia, dyscalculia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In 1985, the observation was introduced as a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. Since then, the month has been used by organizations, such as the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the Learning Disabilities Association of America, to educate the public about those with learning disabilities.
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, there are 15 million people in the United States with learning disabilities. One of the biggest challenges faced by individuals with learning disabilities is the overall lack of acceptance by society. This month is an excellent time for people to pay more attention to people with learning disabilities.
Educators can take part in Learning Disabilities Awareness Month by teaching their students facts about learning disabilities—doing so may show children and adolescents how to be supportive peers.
“The Learning Disabilities Awareness Month allows us to remember our commitments to all children and educate the public to our successes and our challenges,” said NEA Executive Director John Wilson, a former special education teacher from North Carolina. “I encourage everyone to become more knowledgeable about our students who may have a learning disability and how they can become an advocate for them.”
This is also a great time to recognize another underappreciated group affected by learning disabilities: special education teachers. Special education teachers are in great demand in school systems throughout the country, and they are also more likely to transfer to another job or leave the profession than teachers in other specialties.
NEA Today recently hosted a lively discussion on its Facebook page about the shortage of special education teachers in the United States. Educators shared thoughts on how pay, support, and a general lack of understanding about what special education teachers do is contributing to the shortage. It's not too late to join the discussion -- just click here.