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Faculty Handbook: Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to disorders which interfere with the acquisition and processing of information. While the causes of learning disabilities (LD) are not fully understood, they are presumed to be the result of central nervous system dysfunction's that affect the way the brain processes information. Functions of learning that may be affected include visual and auditory sequencing, skills linking perception to movement, orientation in time and space, short or long-term memory, and receptive or expressive language skills. Deficits in these areas of the learning process can negatively impact the student's performance in reading, writing, mathematics, or organization.

Typically, the LD student demonstrates areas of difficulty in marked contrast to other areas in which the student excels. For example, a student may excel in class discussions but fails tests due to poor reading ability. Or, another student may read and write well but cannot grasp mathematical concepts. It is important to note that learning disabilities are not a form of mental retardation, nor an emotional disorder. Also, they are not the result of cultural or ethnic differences. Students who are under prepared, or come from a different language background, may have some of the same problems with spoken or written language, but these problems are not the result of a processing deficit and thus such students are not learning disabled.

The Stephen Benson Program for Students With Learning Disabilities (SBP) at CSULB has been serving students since 1980. While the primary goal of the SBP is to promote academic success, it was designed and continues to be a counseling-based program, which helps the student adjust to his/ her total life environment. Since LD students may experience disabilities in several areas of their life, the philosophy of the SBP is that academic success becomes meaningful only when integrated with other aspects of the student's life. The SBP provides LD assessment for CSULB students to determine whether the student meets the LD eligibility established by the CSU Chancellor's Office.

Strategies for working with Learning Disabled Students:

  • Give assignments in written and oral form.
  • Read information presented on overhead transparencies.
  • Make syllabus and textbook information available prior to class, so that students may arrange for materials to be tape-recorded.
  • Review lecture/discussions at beginning and/or end of each class.
  • Use visual materials - charts, graphs, diagrams, and schematics.
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