This can be tricky. Many students do not have a clear understanding of what a learning disability is. They may equate it with being stupid, or unable to learn. Because of the general lack of disability awareness, there are still many stigmas attached to the word. No one wants to be viewed as different, much less disabled.
Some students may think you are suggesting they belong in a Special Education class, like in high school. Some may even have been in those classes, had a bad experience, and are attempting to 'pass' as nondisabled.
The key lies in your understanding of, and attitude towards learning disabilities. As it is estimated that 12% of the college population has a learning disability, it is very likely you will have at least one LD student in your class.
When speaking privately with an individual student whom you suspect of having a learning disability, try the following:
- Give specific examples of the reason for your concerns.
- Ask the student to describe his educational history. Listen to determine if the difficulties are long-standing or situational.
- Ask what she is doing, or would be willing to do, to improve her academic performance.
- Inform the student that there are services available that address learning difficulties, helping students to be more successful (specialized tutoring, learning strategies and techniques, extended time to take tests, etc.)
- Offer to accompany the student to the CSD office in San Rafael for an appointment to speak with a counselor.