Student looking away from the camera in the library stacks

Individuals who are coping with a learning disability may also have to suffer from the idealisations about work ethic and responsibility from those who do not understand the condition. A learning disability is not a lack of motivation, but it can seem that way to casual observers.

Teachers can only do so much in a classroom with 30 students who are constantly testing behavioural boundaries, and students who have mild learning disabilities may be overlooked. It's important for the parents to be pro-active and get the help that may be needed for a child who seems to be doing just well enough to pass.

Children with Disabilities Become Adults with Disabilities

Realise that a child with a learning disability will grow up to be an adult with a learning disability. Many adults who have a learning disability carry with them a sense of shame for not quite measuring up and a lifetime of disappointments. Everyone experiences setbacks, but the setbacks may seem more insurmountable for an individual with a learning disability. It's crucial for children to learn how to manage a disability while they are young so that the disability doesn't affect an individual's ability to succeed later in life.

The Myth of Low Intelligence

A learning disability presents specific challenges, and it bears no reflection on the individual's level of intelligence. A learning disabled individual may range the gamut from below average intelligence to extremely gifted. The disability only affects an individual's ability to learn in very specific ways. A dyslexic learner may have it in them to discover the cure for cancer, but only if they can learn coping mechanisms for working with a short-term memory issue or poor organizational skills.

Motivation Is the Key to Success

Children with learning disabilities may develop learned behaviors that lead to poor motivation. By helping children to develop their motivational skills, they can do better in school and end up succeeding. Rather than acting out in class because the student becomes frustrated with an assignment, students can learn motivational techniques to help overcome challenges. While an individual who is learning disabled may need additional time to complete a task, the quality of work is ultimately what matters.

Three Kinds of Motivation

Research suggests the three main types of motivation are amotivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Amotivation refers to a student who has completely tuned out. Extrinsic motivation is fueled by the desire to receive a reward with the catalyst being an outside influence. Intrinsic motivation occurs when an individual develops a passion for something or the activity matches up with an internal value system.

Extrinsic motivation can lead to intrinsic motivation, but both types of motivation are useful for increasing success. If a student lacks internal values to make intrinsic motivation viable, extrinsic motivation can provide the same results through the reduction of amotivation. Ideally, individuals will develop intrinsic motivators to propel them through life, but even people without learning disabilities have trouble reaching this stage.

Learning Disabled Students Are Not Lazy

It's important to note that laziness is not a trait specific to a learning disabled child. Instead, what may appear as laziness is simply an inability to determine how to proceed with a given task. An individual with a learning disability may want to complete the task, but lack the executive functioning skills necessary to form a plan and work through the process. An individual who is learning disabled may need some additional support and instruction during their formative years, but the individual can grow into a self-sufficient and productive member of society if coping mechanisms are developed early on.

Bringing It All Together

Highly motivated people have goals and objectives that they want to accomplish. This makes it possible for them to overcome obstacles and pass through boundaries that the less motivated may dismiss as insurmountable. While having a vision is important, it's much more important to have the drive to see a project through to the end. A learning disabled student must face the same challenges, but these challenges are compounded on by the particular disability that presents itself.

A three-pronged approach to working with the child with a learning disability must be used. The first step involves identifying the disability and getting the child into a proper medical or psychological treatment program. The second step requires the presentation of rewards or desired attention when a child accomplishes a task. The final stage involves the evaluation of the child's value system to determine what the child feels strongly about. These values can then be used to show how doing well in school can help them achieve those goals. If the student displays a lack of values, it's important to work with the child to develop interests and principles.