What is Dyslexia
By: Tara
E-mail: [email protected]

Accommodating a Disability: Adults with Learning Disabilities Tara J. Childers University of Oklahoma EIPT 6183, Dr. Greene May 3, 1999 Whether we graduate from highschool or college we all hope to find a challenging career that will propel us forward in today’s society. For those suffering from dyslexia this only adds to the frustration and fears associated with seeking employment. Many adults with dyslexia or other forms of learning disabilities never disclose their disability in interviews or once employed for fear of being discriminated against. Several investigators have noted, however, that many persons with learning disabilities adjust well to the demands and complexities of adulthood. (Greenbaum et al. 1996). The basic cause of dyslexia is still not known, however, much research is being done to determine the problems underlying dyslexia. In many cases, dyslexia is highly inherited. Studies have shown a number of genes that may set the stage for its development. Characteristics of dyslexia are now more apparent to educators than ever before. Early educational interventions are helping individuals to manage their dyslexia. There have been some studies that attend to accommodating persons with learning disabilities in post-secondary and occupational settings. Only a few articles will be reviewed having been found worthy of this subject. However, before reviewing the articles, in order to gain a greater understanding of the types of learning disabilities people face lets define one of the most significant learning problems: dyslexia. A Type of Learning Disability: What is Dyslexia? The word dyslexia is derived form the Greek “dys” (meaning poor or inadequate) and “lexis” (works or language). Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems in expressive or receptive, oral or written language. Problems may emerge in reading, spelling, writing, speaking, or listening. Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure. Dyslexia describes a different kind of mind, often gifted and productive, that learns differently. Dyslexia is not the result of low intelligence nor is the problem solely intelligence. An unexpected gap exists between learning aptitude and achievement in school. Dyslexia is not truly a visual or auditory problem, but a language problem. Dyslexia results from differences in the structure and function of the brain. People with dyslexia are unique; each having individual strengths and weaknesses. Many dyslexics are creative and have unusual talents in areas such as art, athletics, architecture, graphics, electronics, mechanics, drama, music, engineering, and medical professions. Dyslexics often show special talent in areas that require visual, spatial, and motor integration. Their problems in language processing distinguish them as a group. This means that the dyslexic has problems translating language to thought (as in listening or reading) or thought to language (as in writing or speaking). After looking at what dyslexia means and some characteristics of this disability now lets look at a study of learning disabilities in the workplace. Research by Greenbaum, Graham, and Scales (1996) adults with learning disabilities in the work place indicate that most adults adjust well to the demands and complexities of adulthood. The purpose of this study was to identify occupational and social status of adults with learning disabilities once after college. This study was conducted at the University of Maryland. Only eighty-one students with learning disabilities received assistance from the office of Disability Support Services during a twelve-year span from 1980 to 1992. In the study conducted by Greenbaum, Graham, and Scales (1996), out of the 81 former students, 49 adults with learning disabilities agreed to be interviewed about their current employment and social status. The study was based on increasing reports of adults with learning disabilities in recent years and the questions about the efficacy of special education services. As Patton and Polloway (1992) cited by Greenbaum et al. (1996) noted, the scenario for many adults with learning disabilities is characterized by unemployment, low pay, part-time work, frequent job changes, non-interaction with community, limitations in independent living, and limited social lives. Several investigators within this study noted persons with disabilities adjust well in adulthood years. Greenbaum et al. (1996) found that a number of adults with learning disabilities were employed in white-collar jobs (e.g. lawyer, urban planner, and real estate investor). Thirty seven percent of adults with learning disabilities studied by Gerber et al. as cited by Greenbaum et