Poll: Learning Disabilities Are Often Misunderstood by Public

What Do People Think About Special Needs: A Poll

I think that we, as adults, learn based on what life throws our way.  All the parents I know who have kids with food allergies, for example, are experts on the topic.  The same holds true for medical conditions including learning disabilities.  But I think that if your children attend public schools, learning about special needs becomes part of the curriculum, particularly for schools such as my elementary school with a large and varied special needs sub-population.

It’s really the relevant topic, at least to our children, on diversity as it’s so wonderful, at least at my school, that the children are so accepting of ethnic diversity and same-sex marriage.  But my kids sometimes struggle to understand special needs kids at school particularly for those with special needs that affect socialization.  As parents, we can help our children by learning more ourselves on this important topic.


By Christina A. Samuels of EducationWeek.

Key Findings:

  • About 80 percent of Americans believe the statement “people with learning disabilities are just as smart as you and me” to be generally accurate.
  • But a majority also link learning disabilities with mental retardation and autism, and more than 50 percent agree that learning disabilities are “often caused by the home environment children are raised in.”
  • The polls, conducted every five years since 1995, show that respondents are increasingly likely to say that they have heard or read “a lot” about learning disabilities. Some 38 percent of the public agreed with that statement this year, compared with 31 percent in 2004.
  • More people also agree with the statement that “all children learn in different ways:” about 79 percent agreed with that statement this year, compared with 70 percent in 2004. And most people in the survey—92 percent—believed it was completely or somewhat accurate that children with learning disabilities process words and information differently.
  • Studies have found that while learning disabilities often coexist with other disabilities like ADHD and autism, having a learning disability does not mean that a student has an additional disorder.
  • About 51 percent surveyed this year agree strongly or somewhat with the statement that “sometimes learning disabilities are really just the result of laziness.” The result is down from 57 percent who agreed strongly or somewhat with that statement in the 2004 poll.

Full article here.

p.s. The image is a link to a blog on by Education Week on Special Education.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Melissa Gulley

    Here is my epic comment:
    Amazing, given the number of kids these days with learning disabilities, that people are so backward in thinking and clearly do not have their facts straight. To mention Autism/spectrum disorder and ADD in the same sentence is even nuts! It’s like comparing the act of eating ice cream to the act of buying a house- totally different, they have nothing to do with each other, not to even mention retardation. There is much to covet in these fascinating kids, many of the kids with learning issues have shockingly high IQ’s. They also have extremely heightened senses or abilities, much like a blind person and their heightened hearing or smell. These heightened senses combined with off the charts IQ can produce some of the highest functioning members of our society. Some examples of people who struggled with learning disabilities are: Pablo Picasso, Leonard Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, Cisco ceo John Chambers, Paul Orfaea founder of Kinko’s, Steven Spielberg, Ted Turner, George Washington, Robin Williams, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Jamie Oliver, Henry Ford- founder of Ford Motor Co, William Hewlett- founder of Hewlett Packard, Thomas Jefferson, George burns, George bush- both, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, Anderson cooper- journalist, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Scott Adams creator of Dilbert, Muhammad Ali, Alexander Graham Bell, Dwight Eisenhower, Prince Charles, Beethoven, Napoleon, Alfred Hitchcock, Justin Timberlake, Ty Pennington, James Carville, David Neeleman- founder of Jet blue. Will smith, Jim Carrey, Elvis, Bill Gates, Bill Cosby, Salvador Dali, Abraham Lincoln, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Joan Rivers, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ansell Adams, sir Richard Francis Burton, Andrew Carnegie, Christopher Columbus, Emily Dickenson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Malcolm Forbes, Robert Frost, Galileo, Wm Randolph Hearst, Ernest Hemingway, Carl Jung MD, Robert Kennedy, Gen. George Patton, Ross Perot, Edgar Allen Poe, Cole Porter, Dan Rather, John D. Rockefeller, Pierre Salinger, Charles Schultz, George C. Scott, Socrates, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Vincent Van Gogh, Jules Verne, Mike Wallace, Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams, Virginia Woolf, FW Woolworth, Mozart, David Murdock, Nasser, Isaac Newton, Howard Hugh’s, and Nostradamus. This is just the tip of the iceberg- I could be here typing for a life time if I tried to mention all the successful amazing people with learning disabilities. These people credit their success with their god given gift of a learning disability. I am clearly not in this category of people but I thank everyday for my severe learning disability- it made me who I am and I’m so grateful. For my kids who have learning disabilities- Thank god, I know they will be amazing adults, how many parents can confidently say that? We need to look at this a the gift it is!!!

    • Two things:
      1) DesignTrackMind is one of the most creative and amazing people I know and she’s a great mom! You can catch her on TV on the current project on This Old House. She is the interior designer for the Auburndale, MA project. Check out her fantastic blog at. http://DesignTrackMind.com.

      2) You are so right about the amazing outcomes of people with learning disabilities. Wow! What a list!

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