How the Schools Finally Understood NLD
Actually, I should more accurately say that
they finally realized that the academic problems he was experiencing were due to
having NLD. They did not come to terms with it. They told us that if
he stayed in the school we would have to accept the fact that we couldn't
compare his progress to the other children's progress. Of course, it's
never wise to compare one's child to another; however it was more that they were
saying he could possibly stay in the school and be in a category of his own with
lowered academic expectations.
We came into the school telling them about the NLD and offering literature. They took it but did not incorporate much of it into the curriculum. This was highly frustrating as we often had to witness our child being taught in ways that were counterproductive to his learning and didn't capitalize on his strengths. Feedback to the teachers was for the most part not appreciated and the administration insisted that focusing on NLD was not the way to proceed. Two examples of their blatant lack of knowledge of NLD were the choice to use a reading program that had the student rely on visual imagery as a reading strategy. It took a year for them to realize this approach, relying on the ability to visualize, was not suited for him and they switched to a more phonetic approach. When they had a spelling bee, he was not invited to participate, despite his good spelling abilities (which were much better than his mostly dyslexic classmates).
That leads me to my last point. This was a school oriented to dyslexics. They were unwilling to learn about NLD and resistant to doing so. This was the main problem.
I believe the turning point to admitting that NLD had to be acknowledged came when *they* began to see more and more that there were academic problems they didn't know how to address. Prior to this, he had "gotten by" ok enough for them to continue to ignore the reality of his learning disability.
I believe this attitude on their part was the attitude many educators had 30 to 40 years ago when dyslexia was the new LD on the block. Insulting remarks and comments were made about dyslexics and not much of a future was envisioned for them. Look at where the understanding of dyslexia is today and how promising the futures of children and adults with dyslexia are with proper intervention. Those educators would have never believed that future could be possible.
It is now incumbent upon educators to learn about NLD. The solution is not to exclude or ignore these students' unique learning problems. It is to rise to the challenge of understanding how to teach these students with respect for their strengths.