By: Deanna Rebro | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: October 2013
Linda Mondenbach, president, LDAO.
Bullying is not good, by any means. But bullying kids with learning disabilities can cause life-long negative repercussions. The subject is so serious that the Learning Disabilities Association of Oklahoma (LDAO) selected "Bullying and Its Impact on Students with Disabilities: Identification, Prevention and Intervention" as the topic for its annual fall conference on Friday, November 1.
Linda Modenbach, president of the state organization and board member of the national affiliate, Learning Disabilities of America (LDA), believes this is one of the most important issues the group has ever presented. “Every student must feel safe and secure in order to do his or her best and reach their full potential,” she explains. But the student with learning disabilities faces additional challenges that are intensified when bullied. Results of a study published in “Pediatrics” indicates, “Ramifications include lower academic achievement and aspirations, higher truancy, feelings of alienation in school and poor relationships with peers.”
Conference attendees can expect to walk away with a clear definition of what is, and is not, bullying. They’ll learn ways to prevent it, what to do when it happens and how to best handle the problem so that the victimized child feels empowered to deal with the situation.
Keynote speaker is Connie Parr, past president of LDA and a pediatric nurse practitioner in Aurora, Illinois. LDA is the largest non-profit volunteer organization that serves as an advocate for people with learning disabilities. It has more than 200 state and local affiliates in 42 states and Puerto Rico. The work of LDA teaches parents and children how to structure their lives so that they can best cope with each child’s individual struggles. And they, indeed, are individual. The wide scope of learning disabilities includes everything from children having difficulty communicating to those with a high intelligence and high anxiety level that, when controlled, can result in high achievement as well.
Conference presenters include legal representatives who will be on hand to answer questions and provide clarification on key points of federally-mandated anti-bullying programs in schools. Numerous break-out sessions will address issues more completely, including age-appropriate topics for dealing with students from pre-school through high school.
“The focus is on intervention strategies, with examples of research-based techniques that have been successful,” says Linda. Early identification of bullying and cooperative intervention among parents and school officials can get the student the help he or she needs to become a responsible, productive citizen.
The retired Jenks educator explains that the sophistication of modern electronics equipment and relative ease of use among young people make cyber bullying a major concern that will also be covered in the conference. Uploading embarrassing and unflattering photographs is a favorite pastime among cyber bullies. This malicious behavior can be seriously hurtful to anyone, but to those with learning disabilities the effects can be devastating. Old-school thinking would call for parents to say, “Just ignore it.” But ignoring the problem does not work. “Bullying calls for immediate reporting,” says Linda, “and immediate resolution.”
The LDAO annual fall conference will be held on Friday, November 1 at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Learning Center. Educators, school administrators, concerned professionals, parents and students are urged to attend.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.