The Path to Learning

How being differently-abled can impact learning
The Path to Learning

Learning ability is, in fact, a unique ability to do anything. Disabilities aren’t identified as a physical disability only but also can be a learning or developmental disability.

Before getting into topics with any type of disabilities, please do not self-diagnose. If you believe signs may have shown, contact a physiatrist for any diagnosis.

Entering elementary school, we’re learning new things every day such as math, reading, even science. Overtime, we accomplish what we learned. Some kids may have shown more struggle.

Adults and children may have struggle in school with certain topics, but some struggle with specific skills over time, and it could be a sign of developing a learning disability. Having a learning disorder means that a child has difficulties in one or more areas of learning, even when overall intelligence or motivation is not affected.

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Most schools have programs to accommodate students’ disabilities. All students have the ability to learn even if it’s at a slower pace. There are teachers prepared in the special education field that have their varieties of way of teaching.

For those who are or want to pursue special education, we have advice from a teacher who helps students in the special education field. Carol Ann Grant, an ESE Specialist at CSHS, offers the advice, “Make sure to love what you do and have lots of patience; some days are better than others, as you keep in mind students will come to you with different personalities.”

As I work with them during their math class, I was able to experience getting to know them and where they need help. Everyone was different and experienced things differently.

Ms. Grant also advised, “Trust is one of the main things we have to build up with our kids. We have to let them know they can trust us, we are here to help them, and they can do beyond what they think.”

Trust is one of the most important things as students will be able to come to you without having the fear of being judged. Assuring the students that anything is positive can help them set goals to succeed.

Pursuing the special education field does bring some challenges, ESE Support Facilitator Kristen Rusnak went through challenges herself. “The biggest challenge is the diverse population, so no two students look the same; one person might have a specific learning disability, but that uniquely specific to that person.”

Rusnak says, “each and every child you interact with has their own unique skillset and their own unique needs; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to what we do, and it all is unique.”

Being unique in learning is not a bad thing; in fact, it is great to be able to learn differently and experience things differently. Each person, disability or not, has their own perspective of seeing things distinctly.

To give a bit of background, my cousin, who was born with Spina Bifida and Arnold Chiari malformation type 2, had his first surgery 6 hours after being born. Later on, 3 months after his Spina Bifida closure surgery, he developed Hydrocephalus.

Spina Bifida is birth defect in which the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. Arnold Chiari malformation type 2 is a condition wherein the brain tissue extends into the spinal cord.

Arnold Chiari malformation type 2 usually occurs when part of the skull is misshapen or is smaller than usual; the skull then presses on the brain and forces it down.

Arnold Chiari type 2 affects combined with Spina bifida can cause the cerebellum to push down on the spinal canal, which can interfere with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain and spinal cord.

Hydrocephalus is buildup of fluid in cavities called ventricles deep within the brain. The extra fluid puts pressure on the brain and can cause brain damage.

Doctors have explained there was a low chance of my cousin being able to speak, so he would learn communicate with sign language and AAC device (communication through a device).

Gregorio’s cousin painting in school with his classmates. (Alexandra Gregorio)

As time passed, he showed he was a strong little boy and proved anything is possible. Now he’s speaking and learning English and Spanish. He has therapy to help him, he is currently living his best life and interacting with everyone.

Generally speaking, being different makes everyone unique. We shouldn’t treat them differently because they’re different but treat everyone the same as everyone has something special to make them unique.

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