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Learning Disabilities

After the AssessmentWhen The System Fails

When Towanda fell further and further behind in elemen tary and middle school, Towanda's mom asked for help. Somehow she didn't get it. By the end of tenth grade, everyone could see that Towanda would have to be held back—for the second time. Towanda's mother was worried that her daughter might never graduate from high school.

Her mother located Mr. Brown, a lawyer, who spoke with the school system staff about Towanda's needs. Mr. Brown pointed out how the federal law applied in Towanda's case, and the possible legal problems that might result if the school system did not help Towanda.

With Mr. Brown's help, Towanda was soon assessed for LD . When the assessment showed that she indeed had a learning disability, Towanda was given special services and tutoring to help her catch up.

Every community has resources to help people like Towanda and her mother. These resources are people called advocates. Advocate comes from a Latin word that means “to call.” In this case, advocates call for the help students need for school success. It is not an easy job. Facing school staff and insisting that a student be placed in the right program and given the needed help takes time and hard work. A good advocate must also be outspoken and care about the person he or she represents. The advocate must also give a parent advice on what the parent can do, and help the parent to understand what the school system can and must provide, based on the law.

Some parents choose to hire lawyers who specialize in representing young people with learning needs. Of course, a lawyer will charge for his or her services. Other parents turn to churches, organizations, support groups, and state agencies that are willing to be advocates for students like Towanda for little or no cost. Such groups are often willing to give parents advice even if no one in the group actually speaks for them.

Today, parents can also find help and advice on-line. They are finding out that computers can link students, parents, and LD experts for the benefit of all. Some useful sources are listed in the Where to Go for Help section at the back of this book. Help is out there for parents and young people who face the problem of learning disabilities, especially for those who face a school system that seems unable or unwilling to provide the services needed.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaLearning DisabilitiesLearning Disabilities - After the Assessment - Help!, Program Placement, Feelings Matter In Program Choice, Special Services, What About A Tutor? - Gifted and LD