Dyslexia

Whether we graduate from highschool or college we all hope to find a challenging
career that will propel us forward in today`s society. For those suffering from
dyslexia this only adds to the frustration and fears associated with seeking
employment. Many adults with dyslexia or other forms of learning disabilities
never disclose their disability in interviews or once employed for fear of being
discriminated against. Several investigators have noted, however, that many
persons with learning disabilities adjust well to the demands and complexities
of adulthood. (Greenbaum et al. 1996). The basic cause of dyslexia is still not
known, however, much research is being done to determine the problems underlying
dyslexia. In many cases, dyslexia is highly inherited. Studies have shown a
number of genes that may set the stage for its development. Characteristics of
dyslexia are now more apparent to educators than ever before. Early educational
interventions are helping individuals to manage their dyslexia. There have been
some studies that attend to accommodating persons with learning disabilities in
post-secondary and occupational settings. Only a few articles will be reviewed
having been found worthy of this subject. However, before reviewing the
articles, in order to gain a greater understanding of the types of learning
disabilities people face lets define one of the most significant learning
problems: dyslexia. A Type of Learning Disability: What is Dyslexia? The word
dyslexia is derived form the Greek dys (meaning poor or inadequate) and lexis
(works or language). Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems
in expressive or receptive, oral or written language. Problems may emerge in
reading, spelling, writing, speaking, or listening. Dyslexia is not a disease;
it has no cure. Dyslexia describes a different kind of mind, often gifted and
productive, that learns differently. Dyslexia is not the result of low
intelligence nor is the problem solely intelligence. An unexpected gap exists
between learning aptitude and achievement in school. Dyslexia is not truly a
visual or auditory problem, but a language problem. Dyslexia results from
differences in the structure and function of the brain. People with dyslexia are
unique; each having individual strengths and weaknesses. Many dyslexics are
creative and have unusual talents in areas such as art, athletics, architecture,
graphics, electronics, mechanics, drama, music, engineering, and medical
professions. Dyslexics often show special talent in areas that require visual,
spatial, and motor integration. Their problems in language processing
distinguish them as a group. This means that the dyslexic has problems
translating language to thought (as in listening or reading) or thought to
language (as in writing or speaking). After looking at what dyslexia means and
some characteristics of this disability now lets look at a study of learning
disabilities in the workplace. Research by Greenbaum, Graham, and Scales (1996)
adults with learning disabilities in the work place indicate that most adults
adjust well to the demands and complexities of adulthood. The purpose of this
study was to identify occupational and social status of adults with learning
disabilities once after college. This study was conducted at the University of
Maryland. Only eighty-one students with learning disabilities received
assistance from the office of Disability Support Services during a twelve-year
span from 1980 to 1992. In the study conducted by Greenbaum, Graham, and Scales
(1996), out of the 81 former students, 49 adults with learning disabilities
agreed to be interviewed about their current employment and social status. The
study was based on increasing reports of adults with learning disabilities in
recent years and the questions about the efficacy of special education services.

As Patton and Polloway (1992) cited by Greenbaum et al. (1996) noted, the
scenario for many adults with learning disabilities is characterized by
unemployment, low pay, part-time work, frequent job changes, non-interaction
with community, limitations in independent living, and limited social lives.

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Several investigators within this study noted persons with disabilities adjust
well in adulthood years. Greenbaum et al. (1996) found that a number of adults
with learning disabilities were employed in white-collar jobs (e.g. lawyer,
urban planner, and real estate investor). Thirty seven percent of adults with
learning disabilities studied by Gerber et al. as cited by Greenbaum et al.,
classed as highly successful in their job, eminence within their occupation,
earned income, job satisfaction and education. Within all three studies, one
factor for success for adults with learning disabilities was the level of
education. Persons with mild learning disabilities who dropped out of high
school are often employed at a lower rate than persons with mild disabilities
who graduated. (Edgar, l987; Hasazi, Gordon, & Roe, l985; Zigmond &
Thornton, l985). Persons with learning disabilities who graduated from college
are more likely to hold a professional and managerial position than persons with
learning disabilities who only graduated from high school. (Rogan & Hartman,
l976, 1990). The successful functioning of persons with learning disabilities
was evident by post-secondary education. Eighty nine percent of the students
Gerber, Ginsberg, and Keiff (1992) studied obtained a bachelors degree or
higher. The current study examined the occupations and social status of adults
with learning disabilities who graduated from college. Employment Current
employment at the time of the interview, 35 of the 49 participants was employed.

One working on graduate school part-time, 7 of the remaining 14 were engaged
because they were attending school full-time, 2 working on undergraduate
degrees, and 5 were attending graduate school. The occupations of the
participants varied and included customer service representative, bartender,
medical researcher, reporter, camp director, bank teller, salesperson,
mechanical engineer, artist, botanist, corporate vice president, teacher,
embryologist, investment banker, paramedic, social worker, securities broker,
line cook, office manager, and so forth. Of the employed participants, 25 were
in professional, technical, or managerial positions; eight were in clerical and
sales and two were in service occupations. Eighty percent of adults with
learning disabilities were employed full time, in professional or managerial
positions or occupations. Job Satisfaction Of the 35 employed, 33 were satisfied
with their current employment. Even though most of the participants enjoyed
their jobs, 21 of the participants stated they would like a different job.

Reasons for wanting a different job included a) wanting to make more money b)
wanting a more challenging or interesting occupation. Social Status All but one
of the 49 participants was socially active. Social activities ranged from going
to bars, movies, and dinner, as well as sporting events. Only nine of the
participants said they were unsatisfied with their social lives. Disclosure of
Learning Disability Of the total of participants who had been employed, only
nine indicated they had ever disclosed their learning disability when
interviewing for a job. The reasons for disclosing their disability to their
interviewers was a) they were not ashamed of their learning disability and felt
they had learned to compensate b) that their disability would have an impact on
their performance of the job. Most participants did not reveal their disability
when applying for their job. Reasons for not revealing their learning disability
was a) fear of discrimination and stigmatization b) no longer being affected by
the disability. The primary reason for not disclosing their disability was the
fear of discrimination. Impact of Learning Disability Participants in the study
by Adelman and Vogel as cited by Greenbaum et al. reported that their learning
disability affected their work and that they had devised specific strategies for
coping with their difficulties. Some of the strategies include taking extra time
to complete work, asking for additional help, carefully monitoring or proofing
own work. In the current study, participants were knowledgeable about their
disability and its effects on their lives. There were a total of 41 participants
who had difficulties in multiple areas such as, reading comprehension,
organization, and note taking. Eight indicated they had difficulty in only one
area: reading (n=3), composition (n=2), mathematics (n=2), or information
processing (n=1). Participants typically described their learning disabilities
with the term dyslexia. What role did the participants` learning disability
affected their work environment; 39 participants indicated that their learning
disability affected them either at work or in other areas of their lives. These
areas included reading, writing, math, and memory. Adelman & Vogel, (1990)
as cited by Greenbaum et al. (1996) the most common problems centered on
processing, language, and math difficulties. The current study adds to a growing
body of work indicating that a learning disability is a persistent problem that
does not go away with age. Conclusion From this study, we have found that
education plays an important role in the future success of a person with a
learning disability as well as persons with learning disabilities adjust well to
the demands and complexities of adulthood. (Greenbaum et al. 1996) The study
examined some of the difficulties and fears one may face in the work place. The
article suggests that self-awareness can help a person with a learning
disability by strengthening them to become the person they want to be. The
article however, does not address or suggest specific strategies one may use to
achieve personal goals. The article did cover how most participants were
unwilling to disclose their learning disability to their employer. People with
learning disabilities have specific rights according to the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Revealing learning
disabilities to an employer would allow accommodations and adjustments for those
people in the work place but the authors did not go into great detail concerning
discrimination issues. Moving to the second study, students with learning
disabilities in education face a similar task as that of adults in the work.

According to Ysseldyke & Algozzine, 1990 as cited by Barga (1996), it is
estimated that five percent of young school aged adolescents is considered to
have some type of learning disabilities. Due to the passage of the Brown v.

Board of Education in 1954 schools are now becoming involved in assisting
disadvantaged students. Congress passed the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act,
which focused on providing equal education for any and all students with
learning disabilities. This law mandates that students with learning
disabilities receive supplemental services while attending educational settings
(Barga, 1996). Today, the number of students in higher educational settings who
have experienced some type of learning disability has increased from .3 percent
in 1983 to 1.2 percent in 1987 (Heath, 1992). This same survey found that
students with learning disabilities in postsecondary institutions have grown to
over 20,000. From this we can clearly see that students with learning
disabilities are the largest group of students who receive services that assist
them with the learning process, especially at the college level (Jarrow, 1987 as
cited by Barga, 1996). Clearly, there has been a great increase of students who
are showing learning disabilities in the higher educational arenas. Students
with learning disabilities have difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling and
with mathematical concepts. Often time`s students are easily distracted,
unfocused, and have a hard time developing good time management skills. In
addition, many students who struggle with learning disabilities have great
difficulty in understanding and following directions and struggle with different
aspects of their social situations that they encounter. One of the most
significant facts about these students is their alarming rate of high school
dropout. According to Lichtenstein, 40 percent of students with learning
disabilities drop out of high school, as opposed to the 25 percent without
learning disabilities (Lichtenstein, 1992). The purpose of this study was to
find out the factors that has enhanced the success of students with learning
disabilities in school settings and to explore how these students managed their
disabilities from kindergarten through college. This study was designed due to
the alarming number of students with learning disabilities who dropped out of
school. There were two objectives for this study. The first objective was to
find out how students with learning disabilities managed their disabilities
while in school; and the second objective was to find the methods of success.

This study was conducted at an average sized, 4-year state university with an
enrollment of 9,000 students. The students for the study were identified with
the help of the director of learning disabilities clinic. The students were
first contacted through a letter that was written and generated by the director
of the clinic and the researcher. From the letter, four traditional and five
nontraditional students with learning disabilities were selected for this study.

Selection was based on verbal response, willingness to participate in this
study, and availability of time. The age of the students ranged from 18-45
years, with the median age being 27.5. The range of disabilities varied widely
from each person. Data for this study was collected over a six month period of
time and the collection of the data consisted of conducting semistructured,
open-ended, taped interviews; completing classroom observations; reviewing
academic files; and collecting other documents related to the study`s
participants. The focus of the interviewers was on exploring the student`s
history and educational experiences from kindergarten through their current
schooling status. The results indicated that the students experienced various
forms of labeling, stigmatization, and gatekeeping that created many of the
barriers that they have faced in their education. To gain a better understanding
of these results I will define labeling, stigmatization and gatekeeping.

Labeling is defined as anything functioning as a means of identification or as a
descriptive term, formal or informal (Barga, 1996). Basically, this means that
when someone comes into another person`s presence, we label and categorize the
individual based on his or her appearance. From this study, students described
labeling as a very positive experience when it made sense out of their academic
struggles and involved getting help. On the other hand, labeling was negative
for students when it created conditions of being set apart from their peers and
receiving differential treatment from other people. Stigmatization is defined as
receiving differential treatment based on others` perceptions (Barga, 1996). In
this study, stigmatization took on several different forms, depending on the
context. At times stigmatization was evident through name calling, accusations,
and low academic expectations by peers and teachers. During the college level,
stigmatization was self-imposed or forced on the students. Gatekeeping is
defined as the barrier process that serves to maintain the status quo of an
organization (Barga, 1996). This was accomplished by either denying students
with learning disabilities access to a college goal or permitting access but on
conditional terms. The coping techniques that were found due to this study were
of great importance. Coping techniques are behaviors or initiatives the student
takes to assist in managing his or her disability (Barga, 1996). The first
coping technique was benefactors. The benefactors functions included providing
emotional support and understanding, acting as a sounding board for personal
problems, helping with homework, and being an advocate on behalf of the student.

The second technique was self-improvement techniques, which included taking
longer breaks, seeking and initiating help at the university level, using
positive affirmations for motivation, and seeking situations that produced
personal growth. The final coping technique was study skills and management
strategies. Use of technology, relaxation techniques before tests, taping
classes, maintaining a personal day timer, and the amount of time devoted to
study. From this study we can clearly see that students experienced labeling,
stigmatization and gatekeeping and the ways that they learned to cope with there
disability was through relying on benefactors, implementing self-improvement
techniques, and utilizing particular strategies and management skills to assist
students with academics. The results from this study have tremendous
implications for schools and school administration. The purpose of this study
was fulfilled and it is of great importance for the future of students with
learning disabilities. In conclusion, the findings of research have shown
similarities and differences in accommodating persons with learning
disabilities. Barga (1996) finding supports students with learning disabilities
has increased at an alarming rate and learning disabled students continue to
face challenges in the school environment. Greenbaum et al. (1996) found after
post-secondary education persons with learning disabilities adjusted well to the
complexities of adulthood even though those individuals rarely disclosed their
learning disability to their employer fearing being discriminated against. How
can we as a society empower persons with disadvantages to become more aware of
their rights as defined by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990? We should make every effort to inform students about
services offered in schools as well as their rights to those services. Employers
need to become more knowledgeable of their responsibilities to employees faced
with learning disabilities. Both schools and employers need to become more aware
of discrimination, labeling, stigmatizations, and gatekeeping that persons are
faced with during their life as disabled. Due to these negative outcomes,
persons must avoid disclosing their disability to make it through a school or
work situation. However, disclosing is starting to become easier as the stigma
lessons, but unfortunately, discrimination is not yet cleansed from our country.

Some may wish not to disclose their learning disability, but by using positive
terms to explain what one needs can be another option. Example: I need Mary to
proof my work before you see it. That way we can both pay more attention to the
content and not worry about the way it is typed. Have you seen the XYZ software?
It gets the computer to talk so that you can hear what is on the screen. Since
my job requires so much detailed reading, it would be wonderful if I could hear
it. Then there would be fewer errors. Regardless of the strategy, one may take.

An accommodation request must be well thought out, and the easier it is for your
employer, the more likely your success. As stated in the passage earlier,
participants of the Greenbaum et al. study indicated difficulties in multiple
areas one being organization. A strategy for helping organizational skills may
include using a daily calendar, keeping your work area clean of clutter, color
code items, keep items on shelves and bulletin boards. Use an alarm feature on
your work computer so to remind you of important meetings.


Bibliography
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413-421. Deshler, D., Schumaker, J. (1986). Learning strategies: An
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(1989). Metacognition: Answered and unanswered questions. Educational
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Psychology