Learning Disabilities

The ARC provides a variety of services for students who have learning disabilities (LD). If you think you may have a learning disability, or if you already know you have one and would like to know more about our services, please contact our coordinator, Kristie Evans.

What is a learning disability (LD)?

A learning disability is a genetic or organic condition that creates a neurological deficit that impairs the central nervous system. A learning disability acts as a barrier to receiving, processing and/or expressing information.

Isn't LD just another label for low intelligence?

Not at all. In order to be classified as learning disabled, a person must have at least average intelligence. The LD student may process information slower than non-LD students, but with accommodations, she can perform at their level or better. This is not a question of a limited ability to achieve, but of a different means by which achievement can occur.

What is attention deficit disorder (ADD)?

ADD is a condition of the parts of the brain that filter stimuli. A person with ADD is unable to filter out or give appropriate priorities to the stimuli she receives. A person with ADD will find it difficult to focus and concentrate, and too many distractions will render this individual unable to perform high-level thought processes. A person with ADD sometimes also has a learning disability, but not always.

How do you get a learning disability?

You are either born with it or have some type of injury or illness that affects certain areas of the brain.

Can learning disabilities be remediated?

Until recently, the answer was unequivocally “No.” Some research and practice suggests that, for some disabilities, a process called auditory integration training can change hearing and learning patterns.

How can you find out if you have a learning disability?

First, talk with the dean’s office. They can help you determine if you should have LD testing. Sweet Briar has arranged for a specialist to work as a consultant and administer academic testing.

What is involved in LD testing?

The test includes an intelligence test and tests of verbal and quantitative skills. If a person has a markedly higher intelligence than her demonstrated skills and has difficulty in organizing or expressing information, she may have a learning disability.

What services are available for students with learning disabilities?

The ARC director is available to work with students, and the ARC can provide specific tutors to work with students who face particular learning challenges. Please contact Kristie Evans about this service.

Do my professors have to know I have a learning disability?

That information is confidential and cannot be released to anyone without your permission. However, it is generally in your best interest to give permission for your teachers to have information about your LD, as they are then required by law to provide certain accommodations.

Do LD students get special priviledges?

If you consider eyeglasses, contact lenses and hearing aids to be special privileges, then yes. If you understand that the accommodations given to LD students are analogous to the above aids to learning, then no. Accommodations simply put LD students on a level playing field with those who do not have learning disabilities.