Disclosing Learning Disability

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by lenore7188, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. lenore7188

    lenore7188 Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2013

    Hi Everyone,

    I am a recently credentialed special education teacher. I first got a single subject English credential. I have struggled with spelling, pronunciation, distinguishing left from right, and general word blindness throughout my life. I still have a lot of difficulty understanding basic phonics, but I am able to read and understand fine. When I was in elementary school my teacher recommended I should be tested because I was completely lost with phonics, spelled the same word 3-5 different ways in a paper, and did not understand directions. My parents refused testing and I struggled for years trying to hide my issues. I remember my mom letting me skip Mondays in elementary school so I would not have to face the embarrassment of failing my pre-spelling test. I would always get 100% the real spelling test because I would spend hours memorizing the words, but then I would forget them the next week. I got into a top state university and I did fine other than one experience with a TA that thought my spelling showed laziness and then when I explained things referred me to be tested. I minored German in college and did okay, with a lot of effort on my part, and I still do not feel comfortable speaking it. I enjoy challenging myself. I was offered a test during my senior year and I did not take the opportunity because I was so close to graduating anyways. So long story short my own struggles have lead me into the special education field and I know it is a good fit. I have a lot of empathy for my students and I know I think differently. I know how hard it is when you try your best and it is just average compared to others. Is it okay to discuss this with my potential employer as a motivation for why I choose this or should I keep it to myself?
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jul 3, 2013

    I would share it. :)
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Will your employer need to provide any kind of accommodations for you? I ask because if they will, then they may be hesitant to employ you. I would recommend NOT disclosing your disability.

    Are learning disabilities covered by ADA?
     
  5. lenore7188

    lenore7188 Rookie

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    I do not need any accommodations. 99% of people do not even notice. I am very aware of where my issues lie and I make sure that before I teach a lesson I account for any issues I may have.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 3, 2013

    I know a few special Ed teachers who admit to having learning difficulties when they were younger and they want to help others with similar struggles...not sure you should go into the detail you shared here, however.:2cents:
     
  7. lenore7188

    lenore7188 Rookie

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    Thanks czacza. It is really hard. I had an interview today that I had a good shot at (the principal personally called me and asked me to apply for the job). I disclosed my learning disability and I am afraid that hurt my chances. I took the rejection harder than most because my own struggles bring up a lot of emotions. I can not count how many times someone has thought I was stupid because I was not the best speller. I am afraid this hurt my chances at the job or at least made me more emotional about the rejection. I personally feel that I do not want to work for someone who does not understand how my own struggles can be an asset, but I still felt extra hurt from this rejection.
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    So, how do you share your learning disability? How do you express it?

    Has it been diagnosed, and if so what it is exactly?
     
  9. lenore7188

    lenore7188 Rookie

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    It has not been diagnosed. I would love to be tested, but my parents when I was younger refused to and when I was older I for some reason decided that my 9 hour shift at work was more important. I graduated high school with above a 4.0 gpa. I graduated college, with an English major and German minor with a 3.5. I have a 4.0 in both my credential programs. I was not able to get into GATE until i petitioned for it in the 9th grade so it could help pay for my AP tests. I shared it as honestly and positively as I could. I emphasized that it gave me compassion and patience for my students. My mom could not not speak coherently until she was 7 years old. Her sister had to interpret for her. She had me when she was 40 so back then special education as not very sophisticated.
     
  10. bros

    bros Phenom

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    First off, as a person with multiple disabilities, I would recommend disclosing it in an interview if they ask what drove you to teach. However, phrase it as "During my early years of school, I had difficulty with reading. However, due to the intervention of a few great teachers, I was able to overcome these difficulties and become the person I am today. I want to be that great teacher who can change the life of a child."

    Learning disabilities are sort of covered by ADAAA.

    In order to be considered disabled under ADAAA, the person must:
    a. Have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
    b. Have a record of such an impairment
    c. Is regarded as having such an impairment per 28 CFR 36.104

    28 CFR 36.104 states:
    The phrase physical or mental impairment means

    Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine;

    Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities;

    The phrase physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism;

    The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

    The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Thanks for the info. In this case, the learning disability would not be covered, because it hasn't even been diagnosed, right?
     
  12. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I don't have any real advice in this case but I wanted to share that my own disability is rather obvious and I have learned to just embrace it, ramp it up, and sell it. I don't do so until I feel it fits the interview in just the right spot. That way it is not necessarily the overall emphasis.
     
  13. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I had a parapro who had a learning disability and she didn't tell me. I was a little sad that she did not share it with me as I would not have asked her to do some of the things that she was uncomfortable at doing. I only found out after questioning a few students about the spelling of certain words in their stories as they were spelled incorrectly (they weren't phonically spelled) and they told me that she had told them how to spell them. In the end, she taught dictionary skills to my students when she helped them with their spelling.
     
  14. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Correct, although he could argue that having an IEP during school counts, but it would be very shaky grounds.
     
  15. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I would love to hear your story....but I'm a little biased. :lol: The BEST special ed teacher I ever observed also grew up with learning disabilities. She had such a respect for the fact that our kids learn differently.

    I think the best teachers connect with their kids and this is a good way to show you connect with them. :dunno:
     
  16. bros

    bros Phenom

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    I grew up with LDs and I was in a multiply handicapped class for K-2, so I have quite the interesting level of understanding that not many have unless they've been there themselves.
     

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