GETTING HELP LEARNING DISABILITIES DON'T GO AWAY, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE DEBILITATING EITHER Series: Beyond the Classroom SECOND OF THREE PARTS

By Story Renee Stovsky Photos Karen Elshout Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 9, 1995 | Go to article overview

GETTING HELP LEARNING DISABILITIES DON'T GO AWAY, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE DEBILITATING EITHER Series: Beyond the Classroom SECOND OF THREE PARTS


Story Renee Stovsky Photos Karen Elshout Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


IT'S BEEN 10 years since Pam Kortum of Des Peres discovered that her older son had learning disabilities. She vividly remembers her reaction to the news.

"I became hysterical," she says.

Nothing in John Kortum's early childhood had seemed amiss. He was an impulsive, high-energy kind of kid, his mother recalls, not one to sit down and look at a book or work a puzzle.

But his preschool years were happy ones. John made friends easily, he was athletic, and if he didn't know his ABCs when he started kindergarten, so what?

By the end of first grade, though, when he still wasn't able to read, Kortum became concerned. John was evaluated both by a private psychologist and Special School District of St. Louis County.

The consensus: auditory processing problems.

Before she could help her son, Kortum says, she had to overcome a few hurdles of her own - first ignorance, then denial.

"I knew nothing about learning disabilities. I thought they were a form of mental retardation. I shed a lot of tears, worrying that John would never be normal, never go to college," she says.

"Because learning disabilities are hidden handicaps, I also found it hard to accept that something was really wrong with my child. I kept hoping it would just go away."

Despite her denial, Kortum began reading everything she could find about learning disabilities. Then she redirected her energies, determined to become her son's best advocate. By the time John was 7, he was attending The Churchill School, a private school for children with learning disabilities, and beginning to compensate for his weaknesses.

Three years later, Kortum found out her younger son, Christopher, also had learning disabilities.

"I was even more devastated with Chris," she says. "We'd already spent so much time and money on John. I remember thinking I had enough emotional energy to do this for one child, but I wasn't sure I could do it for two."

She did, of course. Today John, 16, is a sophomore at Parkway South High School. He's an honor roll student, doing well with minimal help from Special School District. And he's starting to think about college.

Christopher, 13, attends Parkway South Middle School and is a good student, too. Kortum attributes his success to his incredible determination, to the modifications that regular classroom teachers make to accommodate his disabilities, and to his daily, after-school visits to a private tutor.

Having a learning disability, says Kortum, "is like having asthma - it doesn't go away, but treated properly, it doesn't have to be debilitating, either."

Both John and Christopher are succeeding despite their learning problems. Why?

The main reason is that they've had everything that Dr. Larry Silver, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, maintains is crucial for a good outcome - early intervention, appropriate services, self-understanding and, perhaps most important, a parent who refuses to give up.

***** Early Intervention

What causes learning disabilities?

"People have tried to link them to everything from the red dye in foods to the fluorescent lights in the classroom," says Richard Lavoie, director of Riverview School in East Sandwich, Mass.

"The truth is, the jury is still out, and we're probably a couple of generations away from the answer."

What experts do know is that detecting a learning disability as early as possible can have a tremendous impact on a child's life.

How early is early?

Conventional thinking used to be that if a child exhibited problems in school by third grade, intervention should be considered. Not anymore.

Local speech pathologist Joan Slein believes that most learning disabilities are language-based. Some communication problems, she says, may be evident during the first year of life.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

GETTING HELP LEARNING DISABILITIES DON'T GO AWAY, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE DEBILITATING EITHER Series: Beyond the Classroom SECOND OF THREE PARTS
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.