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Helping those with Learning Disabilities Find Success

In order to help those with learning disabilities to find more success with academics and social-emotional skills, it is important to support their needs. Some possible ideas that may help include extrinsic motivation, rewards, intrinsic motivation, and grading (Smith, 2004). Extrinsic motivation is used when teachers and parents use enthusiasm to convey to children that they can and will succeed (Smith, 2004). It is important to use these when children really will succeed, so that the children will find reward in their work and be willing to try for success next time. Rewards can include verbal praise or alternative benefits to the child (Smith, 2004). It is important to remember when using reward that the child’s main focus should be the task and not the award, so that they do not become dependent on a reward. Intrinsic motivation is keeping the child task oriented and with internal motivation (Smith, 2004). The best way to convey intrinsic motivation is by displaying one’s own hard work for success to others. Children normally find this motivation from their own families. Grading is used in most cases to motivate children to work hard, but this system can be very defeating to those with Learning Disabilities. They may find more support from group projects, portfolios, narrative evaluations, and personalized grading that does not put them in direct competition with their peers, which they cannot beat (Smith, 2004).

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Students need many tools in order to find academic success whether they have learning disabilities or not. It is important to personalize their supports and remember that those with learning disabilities may need more help to find success than their peers. This does not mean that they are limited, just that they are more challenged in finding success.


Smith, C.R., (2004). Learning Disabilities: The Interaction of Students and Their Environments (5th ed.). New York: Pearson Education, Inc.


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