“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.” And as it turns out, when radio preacher Charles R. Swindoll said this, he may well have been talking about students with learning disabilities. A study published in Learning Disabilities & Practice suggests that there is a set of personal attitudes and behaviours which are more powerful predictors of success in persons with LD than traditional measures such as IQ, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.
So what are these things that successful students with learning disabilities are able to do that others seem to struggle with? There are six qualities that set them apart:
- Emotional Stability
- Use of appropriate supports
Successful students with LD have a well–defined sense of self that goes far beyond their learning disability. They tend to view their LD as simply one facet of who they truly are. They develop an inner drive to never give up, but they also know how to change gears when something is not working in their lives. They learn how to anticipate difficulty, and to take action which moves them toward a positive outcome. They develop the skills they need to set realistic goals, and to reach them…step by step. They find ways of recognizing and managing stressors in their lives, and can plan ahead for challenging situations.
The beauty of this is that these are all things that can be learned/developed from a very young age, with the right kind of guidance from parents and teachers. Yes, it may come more naturally for some than for others, but at the end of the day (and this is true for all of us), it’s how we think and how we act that determines who we are and that shapes our destiny. So when we’re looking at strategies, interventions and supports for students with learning disabilities, let’s not forget that helping to positively shape their behaviours and attitudes, and giving them hope, may be one of the most powerful interventions there is.