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Learning Disabilities

The ARC provides a variety of services for students who have learning disabilities. If you feel you may have a learning disability, or if you already know you have one and would like to know more about our services, please contact our coordinator, Mary Jo Upchurch. The link below will provide you with some general information about LDs and the ARC’s LD services.

What is a Learning Disability?
A Learning Disability is a genetic or organic condition that creates a neurological deficit that impairs the central nervous system. A Learning Disability acts as a barrier to receiving, processing, and/or expressing information.

Isn’t LD just another label for low intelligence?
Not at all. In order to be classified as learning disabled, a person must have at least average intelligence. The LD student may process information slower than non-LD students, but with accommodations, she can perform either at their level or better. This is not a question of a limited ability to achieve, but of a different means by which achievement can occur.

What is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?
ADD is a condition of the parts of the brain that filter stimuli. A person with ADD is unable to filter out or give appropriate priorities to the stimuli she receives. A person with ADD will find it difficult to focus and concentrate, and too many distractions will render this individual unable to perform high-level thought processes. A person with ADD sometimes also has a Learning Disability, but not always.

How do you get a Learning Disability?
You are either born with it or have some type of injury or illness that affects certain areas of the brain.

Can Learning Disabilities be remediated?

Until recently the answer was unequivocally “No.” Some research and practice suggests that, for some disabilities, a process called auditory integration training can change hearing and learning patterns.

How can you find out if you have a learning disability?

First, talk with the Dean’s Office (Fletcher Hall, x6206). They can help you determine if you should have LD testing. Sweet Briar has arranged for a specialist to work as a consultant and give Academic Testing.

What is involved in LD Testing?
The test includes an intelligence test and tests of verbal and quantitative skills. If a person has a markedly higher intelligence than her demonstrated skills and has difficulty in organizing or expressing information, she may be learning disabled.

What services are available for students with Learning Disabilities?
The ARC director is available to work with students and the ARC can provide a specific tutor to work with a student who faces a particular learning challenge — please contact MaryJo Upchurch about this service (mupchurch@sbc.edu). We also have software available to help with reading and writing. The Kurzweil text-to-speech computer system allows you to scan your texts (or drop them off a few days early to be scanned by a tutor) into a system that then reads the text aloud to you. The Dragon speech-to-text computer system allows you to speak your thoughts to the computer, which converts your spoken words into typed text.

Do my teachers have to know I have a Learning Disability?
That information is confidential and cannot be released to anyone without your permission. However, it is generally in your best interest to give permission for your teachers to have information about your LD, as they are then required by law to provide certain accomodations.

Do LD students get special privileges?
If you consider eyeglasses, contact lenses, and hearing aids to be special privileges, then yes. If you understand that the accommodations given LD students are analogous to the above aids to learning, then no. Accomodations simply put LD students on a level playing field with those who are not LD.