Please note this video is only available in French. You may enable English closed captioning by clicking on the CC located at the bottom right of the video player.
What was it like when Laurence was first diagnosed with a learning disability?
LAURENCE: I found out in October 2013. I was glad to know what I had.
MOTHER: We found out in October 2013. Our daughter was in the 6th grade and we felt a little bit guilty that we didn’t know before. We wondered if she had ADHD or a learning disability and if one had an impact on the other.
TEACHER: At the beginning of the year, Laurence had a lot of difficulty staying on task. It was challenging to measure her knowledge and comprehension in subjects such as mathematics because she didn’t stay on task for long. She made a lot of disruptive noises during class. Laurence didn’t always realize that she was making noises. Sometimes she found herself engaging in unsafe activities during gym such as kicking a ball while the game was stopped.
Since the assessment, I have noticed that Laurence reflects more before speaking during discussions and experiences fewer challenges following directions during physical education. Laurence’s grades have increased in certain subjects and she demonstrates pride when she completes an assignment. Before she was always the first to quickly complete her assignments and now she hands in her work at the same time as the other students.
During group work, Laurence is less likely to move away from her work group. She remains focussed on the task with her partners.
She requires a lot less help with assignments. She has become more independent. This allowed Laurence’s classroom teacher to become aware of her knowledge and understanding of concepts.
What are Laurence’s strengths?
LAURENCE: I am good with oral communication, science (electricity), math (geometry). I am sociable and I have good relationships with others.
MOTHER: Laurence is very sociable, she has great linguistic capabilities, and she is brave and active (sports, she plays outside a lot). Laurence has good motor skills.
TEACHER: Laurence is a student who is always in a good mood and gets along with her classmates. She is always looking to help others, whether it’s the little kids or staff members. Also, although her belongings take up a lot of space on her desk or her place of work, Laurence is a student who demonstrates great organizational strategies. She can quickly find her worksheets.
Laurence has an excellent vocabulary in French, which allows her to easily understand verbal directions. She uses her comprehension of the language to actively participate in lessons or group discussions.
She has a good logical-mathematical sense that allows her to solve fairly complex problems. Her knowledge of basic math skills also assists with more complicated and difficult concepts.
Laurence is learning how to better handle situations. Her kinesthetic strengths help her during science and physical education.
What are Laurence’s needs?
LAURENCE: It is difficult to concentrate. Noise or people speaking distract me. I have difficulty in math, reading, and writing (in French and English).
MOTHER: Laurence needs help reading and writing. She needs reminders to help her stay on task, to organize herself, or to remain focused. She also needs help with math.
TEACHER: Laurence’s main challenge is with reading. She benefits from using assistive technology that allows her to hear directions or listen to texts rather than reading them in her head. If she doesn’t have access to her computer for a reading activity, she avoids the task by chatting with someone or she will do something else. This challenge with reading affects not only comprehension but also spelling; she still writes phonetically. Once again, she benefits from the use of assistive technology.
What strategies did you learn to succeed at school? How did educators help you learn these strategies?
LAURENCE: I removed the items that distract me from my desk and I use WORD Q.
What is the impact of having a family member with a learning disability?
MOTHER: First, it is a relief to know that there are strategies for managing ADHD. As soon as she began taking Concerta, we noticed it had a very positive impact on her academic achievement: she worked more independently, there were fewer issues with homework, and she experienced successes.
We were able to speak about it openly, to show her that she has strengths, but also challenges. She did an oral presentation on ADHD in front of her classmates.
I also have a son who has a learning disability. We have to be honest with our children and allow them to be aware of their difficulties. He always knew, and he knows, that he has strengths and challenges, but with good teaching approaches and strategies, he can succeed.
What should educators know?
LAURENCE: It is important for teachers to have a good understanding of ADHD and learning disabilities. It is important to understand in order to support students with their learning and to help them.
MOTHER: Allowing students to experience successes (even small ones) to gain confidence and the desire to succeed again, to persevere and to live more.
TEACHER: I think, to help students succeed, we must have good communication with students and parents. This way, students can see that everyone involved wants to help with their learning. The fact that teachers and family were open-minded helped Laurence accept her diagnosis, make a presentation about her learning disability to other students, and see that she can be as successful as others.
In addition, it is important to allow students to actively participate in preparing activities.
Offering choices for how a presentation or assignment is completed, based on the student’s strengths and writing preferences, allows the student to be engaged. For example, the teacher asked the students to write an essay about a school activity. Laurence had the idea to interview the person who organized the activity using a tape recorder. Afterwards, she listened to the recording to write her assignment and she shared the tape-recording with the class.
Click here to access the users ‘guide for this success story.At present ADHD and learning disabilities are considered by most professionals to be two discrete disorders, although some difficulties seem to be common to both disorders, including weak executive functioning and/or working memory. In addition, there are many students who have LDs and ADHD.