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Friday, October 8, 2010

Poll on Learning Disabilities

A learning disability (LD) -- such as dyslexia -- keeps a student from performing up to his or her cognitive level. Under the law, it is separate and distinct from other disabilities such as autism. In practice, however, the distinction is blurry. First, kids with other disabilities may also have an LD. Second, autism does interfere with learning, even among high-functioning kids.

Keep such things in mind when reading a new survey from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation of New Haven, which makes grants in the areas of art, environment and learning disabilities. The poll has a margin of error of three points. According to the survey:
Three in four Americans (75%) also incorrectly associate autism with learning disabilities. This is much more likely to be true among both the general public (82%) and parents with a minimum of a college degree (81%). Age also plays a role in the belief that autism is linked to learning disabilities (78% of those 18 to 54 vs. 69% of those 55+). Women, in general, both moms and nonmoms, also see a strong relationship between the two.
Although educators are also less likely than Americans in general to mistakenly associate emotional disorders (58% vs. 64%, respectively), attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (58% vs. 69%, respectively) and autism (68% vs. 75%) with learning disabilities, sizable numbers of educators do equate these. Also worth noting, 57% of educators associated learning disabilities with substance abuse on the part of a parent, compared to 61% of the general public. This marks a substantial decline from the seven in 10 educators (70%) who in
2004 said the two are linked. Educators and the general public are equally as likely as the population to erroneously link learning disabilities with mental retardation (79% compared to 80%).