by Pat Lillie, LDA President
Every February marks the beginning of a new year for the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA). Committees submit work plans and goals for the year, conference planning for the next year’s conference – in this case the 2018 LDA Conference in Atlanta gets underway, and the Finance Committee delves into budget development. The Public Policy Committee doesn’t start anew, it continues working on what came before, reacts to what is happening now and tries to get ready for what might happen next. In February the LDA Board of Directors welcomed two new members Rose Calloway from Georgia and Nancy Hammill from New Jersey. We look forward to utilizing their dedication and talents as we work together to support and advocate for individuals with learning disabilities.
The basis of LDA is our committees, our grassroots membership and volunteerism. The 2017 conference was held in Baltimore and the close proximity to Washington, D.C., made it possible for three of our committees, Affiliate Support/Membership, Advocacy and Public Policy along with representatives from 25 LDA State Affiliates, to join LDA Policy Director, Myrna Mandlawitz, for a day on Capitol Hill. Their time was well spent visiting their U.S. Senators and Representatives; raising consciousness for the needs of students with learning disabilities; the importance of maintaining and supporting the Federal laws, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and opposing any changes to Medicaid. All total, the LDA Team made over 60 contacts during their day on the hill. Impressive!
In 2017 the Education Committee began the planning process for outreach to State Affiliates and this year has moved into sponsoring two pilot projects for State Affiliate Workshops; one to be held in Nashua, New Hampshire, October 14th, the other in Dallas, Texas, on November 4th. The workshops will offer two separate strands; one for educators, the other for parents.
The teacher strand, “Removing Roadblocks: Understanding and Supporting Students with LD/ADHD in the Regular Classroom and at Home,” will help educators become more aware of where a student gets stuck and be able to identify a student’s “roadblocks to learning.” This requires identifying and planning for students’ potential roadblocks to understanding, providing rich multi-sensory experiences, explicitly teaching executive functions and guiding students to an understanding of their own learning profile. The content will cover academics (reading, math, written expression) along with language processing, executive functions, classroom culture, student self-knowledge and self-advocacy.
Participants in the parent strand, “Success for a Lifetime – Exploring and Developing Life Success Attributes,” will learn to identify specific skills and strategies that enable children and teenagers with LD and ADHD become successful in life. These skills and strategies are practical and can be used by parents to facilitate success for their children. This session will focus on strategies fostering self-awareness and executive function skills critical for social competence, academic accomplishment and lifelong success. These life success attributes include self-awareness, goal setting, perseverance, emotional coping skills and support system utilization. More information on the LDA Affiliate Workshops will soon be posted on LDAAmerica.org.
2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of LDA; founded in 1963 by a volunteer partnership of parents and professionals to bring understanding, recognition and protection under the law for a group of students who were struggling to learn. My utmost thanks and recognition goes to this amazing group of people who brought the Learning Disabilities Association to life; to our staff; and to those who continue to give their time and energy towards creating opportunities for success for all individuals with Learning Disabilities. This includes the goal that all individuals with LD will be evaluated, identified, and receive an education designed according to their special needs in preparation for success in postsecondary education or the work place.
All of the members of the LDA State Affiliates, committee members, members of the LDA Professional Advisory Board and the LDA Board of Directors are volunteers. The spirit of volunteerism and can-do attitude of the LDA pioneers is still alive and well 50+ years later. As said by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that has.”