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Did You Know?

Seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing.

In 1994, Reiff, Gerber, & Ginsberg reported results from interviews conducted with 71 adults with specific learning disabilities who had achieved significant success in their careers. The interviews were designed to determine if there were patterns to their success. The factors were divided into two categories, internal decisions and external manifestations. The internal decisions are:

  • Desire to succeed.
  • Goal orientation.
  • Internal reframing of the learning disabilities experience.

They found that successful adults exhibit a powerful desire to succeed and are goal-oriented. A strong motivator for these individuals was a desire to gain control of their lives. They recognized that their disabilities presented them with significant challenges that require determination and hard work to overcome.

The external manifestations of factors contributing to the success of people with disabilities were found to be:

  • Persistence.
  • Learned creativity.
  • Goodness of fit between abilities and work environment.
  • A social ecology of support systems.

Successful adults with learning disabilities demonstrated a willingness to take risks and were resilient when they encountered setbacks, keeping their eye on the ultimate goal. These individuals were also astute in their selection of goals for themselves, choosing careers that capitalized on their strengths; they developed creative strategies and techniques to compensate in their areas of weakness. Perhaps the most notable characteristic of this group of individuals was their persistence and commitment to hard work. "The idea of working hard and long was not something to be applied occasionally but was simply a way of life. Additionally, persistence was emblematic of a powerful resiliency, the ability to deal with failure by not giving up and trying again"

Reference: Reiff, H. B., Gerber, P. J., & Ginsberg, R. (1994). Instructional strategies for long-term success. Annals of Dyslexia, 44, 270-288,

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