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Topic: Disabilities in college students

General Purpose: To Inform

Specific Purpose: To inform students about common learning disabilities seen in college
Attention Grabber: Can anyone tell me what this says? (Hold up two papers with scrambled
words) When you are attempting to unscramble these words and read it correctly, you are
metaphorically looking through the eyes of someone who is diagnosed with dyslexia which is a
common learning disability in college students around the world.
Credibility Statement: A few years ago, as a high school student, I was involved in a club
called Peer Mentors. Within this community, my responsibility was to aid disabled students with
their homework, school activities and to help them understand that they were no different than
anyone else at that school no matter what disability they had. The experience of working with
them really opened my eyes to how common learning disabilities are whether we realize it or
not. Considering that our college community is one that awards students with certain disability
scholarships, I believe it is important to recognize students with not only physical handicaps but
also mental disabilities as well.
Thesis: Within the next few minutes I hope to inform you with new information on common
learning disabilities that a lot of college students cope with on daily basis.
Main Points: In order to understand some of the background on learning disabilities, I am going
to review a few of their main aspects: What a disability really is, the common disabilities college
students have, the characteristics of each disability as well as how each is treated.
What is the first thing you picture in your mind when you hear the word
disability? You’re probably thinking about a physically handicapped person, right? Wrong.
Let’s think about what a disability really is. What a disability really is.
A. The definition of a disability is a physical or mental impairment that limits the ability to
pursue an occupation as well as limits any qualification or hinders any type of
disadvantage. (Ex: Being paralyzed and wanting to walk across the beach and feel the
sand between your toes.)
B. A disability is not just a physical incapability. It can also be a mental incapability whether
it is a learning disability or an emotional disability. (Ex: You had brain damage after a car
accident and the simple task of sitting up in bed cannot be done due to the messages from
your brain no reaching your arms to push you up.)
Considering the hard times these students go through with the disabilities they endure every
day, it is understandable that going to college as a freshman and being on your own could be
fearful. This leads a percentage of disabled students in high school to either not attend college or
drop out after on a year or so. According to a 2011 report from the National Center for Special
Education Research, many students with learning disabilities are in the minority of four-year
institutions. Only 19 percent of young adults with disabilities enroll in a four-year college or
Learning disabilities are more difficult to recognize in comparison to physical disabilities. When
you walk down the sidewalk to class you can easily observe that someone cannot walk based on
fact’s that they are in a wheelchair. However, you cannot pin-point someone on the street who
has a hard time reading, writing or performing simple math calculations.
1. The most common disabilities in college students are dyslexia, dyscalculia and
A. Dyslexia is the most common of any learning disability and effects reading skills in
young adults as well as children.
B. Dyscalculia affects the ability to perform any math skills and the ability to retain
numerical values in memory.
C. Dysgraphia is a disability that affects the comprehension of language in general whether
it is mentally expressed or written down on paper.
Although the diagnosis of each learning disability may seem simple and straightforward, the
process of actually deceive how to diagnose these young adults in the challenging aspect.
1.In each disability there are numerous signal symptoms and behavioral patterns that become
noticeable and detectable throughout development.
A. People with dyslexia show number of characteristics and behaviors. However, their
behaviors can change from day to day and even from moment to moment.
2.Some of the characteristics of dyslexia include:
a. Although they have high IQs, they are unable to read, spell or write at the appropriate
grade level.
b. They are very talented in music, art, sports, mechanics and telling stories to others due to
the creativity
3.Dyscalculia exhibits slightly similar characteristics as dyslexia, except dealing more with math
1.They are unable to retain numerical values in their memories and experience the difficulty of
processing a certain number of items in a set.
2.Some of the other characteristics of dyscalculia include:
a. They have problems with working memory.
b. No matter how long the period of time, is between learning a math calculation and
repeating it in homework or on a quiz, the storage of the simple calculation is completely
Common characteristic of dysgraphia quite different in comparison to the two others.
1.Young adults with dysgraphia often have difficulties not only written down but also processing
language in general and getting thoughts out verbally as well as processing thoughts on paper.
2.Other characteristics of dysgraphia also include:
a. Frustration of copying notes from a board due to the inability to figure out where they left
off when referring back and forth from the board to the paper.
b. Their writing skills are very slow and tedious if legible at all.
c. They struggle to get thoughts onto paper in a fashion that is organized and makes sense as
b well as verbally expressing themselves.
Transition: You're probably wondering how in the world do you treat so many problems from
only one disability? Well, here are a few of the many answers our medical technology has given
us today. Each disability is treated and helped in different ways depending on how severe each
case may be.
A. Dyslexia cannot be treated with any medication.
1.Due to the inability to treat this disability with medication, there are learning tools that are
offered in campus, in doctors‟ offices and in-home programs that help enhance learning skills.
2.If it is caught early enough within the childhood years, immediate treatment could possibly
prevent any set-backs concerning their learning capabilities later-on in life.
3.The diagnosis of dyslexia can be aided with the help of ADD or ADHD medications if the
individual as any attention disorders along with the learning disability.
B.Dyscalculia treatment is similar in ways as well as different in others as well.
1.As well as treatment for dyslexia, dyscalculia cannot be treated with medication either except
the minor aid of ADD or ADHD medicine if the individual is diagnosed with other disabilities as
2.According to Gavin R. Price in his Scholar Commons article on the characteristics of
dyscalculia, he stated a few interesting facts about computer tools used in helping disabled
students with their math comprehension: “The Number Race‟ is designed to improve the
precision of numerical magnitude representations in DD. The game asks the children to select the
larger of the two arrays of dots and, in additions to providing feedback on the correct response,
adjusts the numerical difference between the sets based on the performance, making the task
easier or more difficult. The second program, “Graphogame‟, follows a similar logic to the
“Number Race‟ requiring individuals to compare sets of objects. Dysgraphia treatment seems to
be simpler when comparing it to those of dyslexia and dyscalculia.
1.The most common treatment of dysgraphia students is the repetition of writing words or
phrases over and over again in order for muscle memory and cognitive understanding to kick in.
2.Bypass strategies are used by teachers in the academic community which allows for leeway of
assignments for those students who need extra help and/or time by reducing the requirements for
each assignment.
3.As well as the previous learning disabilities, dysgraphia is not treatable with medication either
except if the individual has an attention disorder to where ADD or ADHD medicine is
Although there is no known cure for dyslexia, dyscalculia or dysgraphia, medical doctors and
technology are approaching answers to give disabled young adults a promising future.
Now that you are aware of what a disability truly is, the common disabilities in college students,
how to recognize those disabilities based off behavior patterns as well as how to treat each
disability, it is now your turn to step forward. Be a leader of something bigger than yourself and
offer a helping hand to those in need around our college campus.