The Deal with Learning Disabilities

Don’t let a learning disability hold you back
By Melissa Campeau

Did you know that nobody—not even identical twins—has the same brain as anyone else?
So it makes sense that we all learn in a different way, right? That’s why schools are starting to change the way they help students with Learning Disabilities (or Learning Differences).     

So, what is an LD?

“Everyone learns through a combination of reading, doing, watching, listening and talking,” says Kelly Whitmarsh, a teacher in Toronto who works with students who have trouble learning. “An LD student has a hard time with one or more of those ways of learning. It doesn’t mean they’re any less smart,” she explains. “It just means that schools should give those students other ways to learn.”

How do I know if I have an LD?
Find yourself falling behind in class? Is reading extra tough or do you have a hard time remembering things? Do you always feel super unorganized no matter how hard you try?
    None of these things mean you have an LD for sure, but it’s a good idea to talk to a parent, teacher or guidance counselor to let them know what you’re going through.
    They can set up a meeting with a professional who’ll analyze how you learn and understand things. There’s also something called an Individual Education Plan (IED) that your school can create, to help you learn in the way that suits you best.

I have an LD. Now what?
First of all, don’t sweat it. Once you and your teachers understand how you learn, there are lots of ways to figure out a plan that’ll help you deal with your LD.
    Say, for example, your class has been given a book report project and you have an LD that makes reading tough. You could arrange with your teacher to listen to the book on CD instead. 
    Or if you have an LD that makes it hard for you to follow when people are talking, you can have your teacher give you notes so that you can read along while she speaks.

I know someone with an LD. How can I help?
Have a little empathy. Put yourself in your friend’s Keds and try to understand how frustrated she must feel sometimes, or how hurt she must be when people say mean or careless things. Then just be a good, understanding friend. Maybe you can help in class by taking notes if she has a writing LD? Or study out loud with her if reading from notes is tough.
    Lots of people (and even very famous—see below for proof!) work with their LDs and go on to be very successful. There’s no reason that a learning disability has to hold anyone back.

Find out more!

  • Talk to your parents, teachers, guidance counselor or principal if you think you have an LD or want to know more.
  • Check out, a site that can help you find basic info, books written for teens and links to other helpful organizations.
  • Contact kids help phone 1-800-668-6868 or


Keira Knightley (actress)
Princess Beatrice (of England)
Daniel Bedingfield (singer & songwriter)
Orlando Bloom (actor)
Stephan Jenkins (from Third Eye Blind)
Vince Vaughan (actor)
Chris Kaman (from NBA’s L.A. Clippers)