Power of One
For a list of links to resources and topics mentioned in this document, go to
•Participate in an overview of the field
•Take a more in depth view of
characteristics of adults with LD
•Discuss a few strategies for connecting with
those who have lived on the sidelines.
like to begin with reflection today, by having us examine the moments or phases
in our lives when we felt most empowerment – when we felt the most hope,
recognized our greatest vision, and experienced the most certainty about
comes from certainty, from some hidden inner source that leads us to out of fear
and into action.
keeps us from living in our power all of the time? When have you felt the least
able to meet your obligations or follow your dreams?
those moments of despondency and empowerment. What was the difference?
me suggest a possibility.
We feel the most defeated when we experience separation from what we love and are doing. We cease to trust ourselves. Our world feels fragmented, like a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces that will never come together.
We feel most empowered - certain about our lives and actions - when we feel the most connected to what we love and are doing. When we feel oneness with others and with whatever we consider our purpose or vision. We feel alive, effective, productive, and unafraid.
difference between those two perceptions of ourselves lies in the amount of
connection we sense with others and with our activities. We want connection. We
want to feel an absence of conflict and separation in our lives. That is the
power of one, or the power of oneness, if your prefer.
on for examples of people and their struggle to overcome the gap.
[Jane and Dale – MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF CONFORMITY – DALE S. BROWN, NEWSBRIEFS, MAR-AP-1988]
are those people whom we call Learning Disabled? They are most often the
children in our society who grow up with the experience of being different, of
being underachievers. They are most likely the children who grow up to be adults
who live with the experience of never achieving their dreams or meeting their
Because our accepted systems - educational, economical, social, family,
government, etc… - are highly structured to process people who are capable of
linguistically analyzing, interpreting and producing information that can be
similarly applied in our communities.
Our classrooms, board rooms, desk rooms; our testing and assessment instruments; our employment, application, registration, enrollment procedures in schools, hospitals, and offices; our workshops and training experiences; our ways of functioning in the world all emulate a big machine.
chug, chug –
boom-boom - chug, chug, chug.
If you are a swish, zoom, beep, gurgle-dop person, you don’t fit! You are considered different.
does not match brown or gray. The scale starts at “do” and ends at “ti”
and “do”. Ocean water is salty and the sky is blue. Take it or leave it.
Disabled people are really Learning Abled (LA). The so-called LD learn very
well. In fact, they are often brighter and more creative than average! They just
don’t learn through as many avenues as some others. They don’t have the
flexibility of adopting new methods to replace those that don’t work. They are
specific learners. They demand that information enter a certain way (Learning
Styles) and be processed a certain way (Multiple Intelligences), and there are
not two ways about it.
go through the official definition of LD as stated by Bridges to Practice (http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/ld/bridges/bridges.html
), the US Team responsible for examining the issue:
CHARACTERISTICS of ADULTS WITH LD
Had excellent verbal ability, but could express thoughts on paper
Had mechanical aptitude, but difficulty with reading, writing or
Lacked social skills and had difficulty maintaining relationships
or making friends
Learned well when shown, but could not follow written and/or
Felt constantly anxious, tense, depressed and had a very poor
Additional Characteristics from http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/adult/dale_brown_conformity.html
Cannot organize belongings, time, activities or responsibilities
Inability to complete a job application form.
Cannot follow written direction and/or remember several verbal
Difficulty finding or keeping a job.
Difficulty budgeting and managing money.
Time management difficulties.
Short attention span, restlessness or hyperactivity.
Difficulty in remembering and following the sequence of
Difficulty in understanding appropriate social behavior.
Poor coordination and spatial disorientation.
Difficulty with problem solving strategies.
would you feel? [GET RESPONSES FROM THE AUDIENCE]
CHARACTERISTICS (Payne, 1994)
is restless or easily distracted during interview
history of making poor decisions
trouble responding to questions related to background
Skills and Emotional Maturity
inappropriately during interview
and Motor Functions
with gross motor functions
short, simple sentences
filling out application or forms
Level Cognitive Functioning
organizing and prioritizing information
reviewing this list, you'll notice that most of us display several of these
characteristics at some time in our lives. Tp suspect a learning difficulty or
disability, there must be a display of multiple behaviors or manifestations.
These characteristics are usually noticeable during the beginning stages of
entry into an organization (i.e., reception, eligibility processes, intake,
initial interviews, orientation and/or the first few weeks of class/training).
No one knows what causes
learning disabilities. There are too many possibilities to pin down the cause of
the disability with certainty.
causes ld? For those of us who work with adults, it doesn’t matter what causes
it. What matters is where we go with what we know about each person we meet.
Why do we want to do something to improve our success with learning disabled adults?
When you consider that in some areas of Colorado we have a 50% or higher drop-out rate in high school, you must conclude that even more than 40-50% of those adults are not being served in our systems.
Why should human services, education and employment/training facilities be concerned with informal assessment (if not diagnosis) of learning disabilities for adolescents and adults?
data suggests a minimum of one-third to one-half of the participants eligible
for human, education, and employment related services will demonstrate extreme
difficulty in basic skills programs, job training, and employment environments.
If these difficulties are not accommodated it is apparent that the learner will
encounter extreme frustration resulting in a lack of productivity, and an
inability to move toward self-sufficiency, thus a recycling back into the system
– ineffective use of resources and services.
We cannot afford to waste human potential – people with learning disabilities have tremendous potential. The development of an identification process and appropriate support systems will assist participants who have learning disabilities to be productive, self-sufficient members of our community and we will have taken one giant step toward combating the low wages or high skills issues within the American work force.
about the number of adults in adult education programs, social services
programs, or employment-seeking programs indicate that probably 40-50% of these
adults, at a minimum, may have learning disabilities that have kept them from
achieving academic and employment success in their lives. (http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/ld/bridges/about/project.html
- Bridges to Practice)
The United States Employment and Training Administration (1991) estimated that between 15-23% of Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) title IIA recipients may have a learning disability. Based on the Department of Labor observations, the percent of adults with LD increases to between 50-80% among those reading below the 7 th grade level (U.S. Department of Labor, 1991).
studies conducted by the President’s Committee on Employment for People with
Disabilities it was found that 10 to 14 percent of adults in the workplace have
learning disabilities. (Nancie Payne, M.S.s, Senior Consultant, Payne
survey of 567 adults with learning disabilities conducted by the association for
Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities (now Learning Disabilities
Association of America) found that 210 (37 percent) were unemployed. (Nancie
Payne, M.S.s, Senior Consultant, Payne & Associates)
Buell Kidder suggests dyslexia affects 10 to 15 percent of the school age
population. Since dyslexics have a much harder time learning to read, they
could make up a larger segment of adults who are illiterate – as much as 30 to
50 percent. (Kidder, 1987)
recent Department of Labor Research and Evaluation report states that
non-empirical studies suggest between 50 and 80 percent of students in adult
basic education programs (generally those reading below the seventh grade level)
probably have learning disabilities.
to 23 percent of all Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) IIA participants may
have learning disabilities (50 to 80 percent of those identified as reading
below the seventh grade level); and
can we do to help ourselves if we have specific learning preferences, or how do
we work with people who do?
you are dealing with an extreme disability, I wouldn’t worry too much
about getting a professional LD diagnosis for someone. It is a cumbersome,
expensive, and stressful process. However, in many cases, a person who is
finally diagnosed professionally will express a huge, life-held sigh of relief
to understand that there is an explanation for this being's behavior and
those who prefer to avoid the process and expense, it might be a relief to know
that even if we can identify the specific learning disability, we would still
apply common best practices among adults across the board who desire to achieve
higher pay in higher skilled jobs.
are some good approaches to encourage more people to succeed on their path to
gaining confidence and skills?
with every person you meet and get interested in who they are. The power of
one to one connection. (Bridges toPractice)
REASONABLE SCREENING PRACTICES AND OBSERVATION GUIDELINES
(inexpensive, quick, immediately usable)
all or none (Clear Policy)
goals and approaches
Checklists on site
is a critical component
partial list of examples of questions (and rationale) which may be helpful in
identifying symptoms of learning disabilities in adolescent and adult
populations are as follows: (Nancie Payne, 1994)
grade completed? (educational history/background)
of years in that grade? (educational history/background)
you ever held back a grade? (educational history/background)
you like to read? (visual processing of language)
reading difficult? (visual processing of language)
you like to draw or doodle? (visual-motor processing of symbols)
you like to write? (visual-motor processing of language)
writing difficult for you? (visual-motor processing of language)
time limits bother you? (spatial./time orientation and pressure)
you have trouble following oral directions? (auditory processing and sequencing)
you misunderstand or confuse what people say? (auditory discrimination and
you have trouble listening? (attention and concentration span)
you have trouble concentrating? (attention and concentration span)
you have experience difficulties when learning? (processing disorders)
many jobs have you had since school/training? (poor learning/processing fits in
your hobbies (significant to understanding learning strengths)
those you want to assist into defining realistic, achievable short-term goals.
Remember that LD adults often have a different time concept than many, so be
patient in guiding adults through goal-setting steps.
self-directed contracts that have people endorse activities to meet their own
goals. What does the person like to do, want do do, commit to do?
(Accountability/Responsibility = Dependent to Independent Learner)
IN THE PROCESS
what doesn't appear to be working WITH the person, not FOR the person.
BE PREDICTABLE, STRUCTURED AND REPETITIVE
("Boa Noite. Tudo bom. Como e que vai. Oi, tudo bem? Oh, como e que vai?") If I were to speak these words to you in your effort to learn the language, what would you hope I would do before asking you to perform? (Repeat, repeat, repeat. Keep the same structure. Do not change. Take small segments at one time. What else?)
Adults struggling to conform
appreciate the same courtesy.
DOWN TASKS AND INSTRUCTIONS
people understand better about how they learn: visual, kinesthetic, auditory.
(assessments, observation of body language and word cues)
everything until it works. Gardner’s list.
AND GET FEEDBACK
in touch. Evaluate progress. Talk. Call. Refer. Don’t give up.
What other people suffer the same experience of separation we impose on ALD’s? They are people who come from Holistic Cultures. Those whom Edward Hall calls High-Context cultures.
If you were to draw a picture of yourself in relation to everything else in your world, how would you portray it?
learners cannot draw those pictures because they perceive themselves as a woven
aspect of their environment, not as separate from it.
(Coaching vs. Direction)
NETWORK OF SUPPORT
GAPS AND ENCOURAGE STRENGTHS
PEOPLE IN PROJECTS
All of us seek connection with one another. We want to contribute something of value to our world.
empower each other through acceptance, involvement and affirmation. The power of
one-to-one contact cannot be substituted by rules, guidelines, and group
of us is unique. Everyone has something to offer. I can’t breathe alone under
water. I’m disabled that way. I need accommodations – tank, suit, flippers,
etc… I need someone from the ocean to teach me how to swim and dive.
may not have the answers for the people we serve, but we can listen and listen
and listen until we understand. We can examine possibilities and resources and
share them. We can care deeply. We can move into new ways of doing things. We
CAN CONNECT WITH THEM AND AND GIVE THEM HOPE. And we may be the only people that
you are here, I know you’ll join me. Let’s keep up the Power of One and make
our circle bigger in our agencies, schools, businesses, everywhere, specially in
a great time as you learn more today!