The Kids On the Block
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Jennifer Hauser

Jennifer is ten years old and is in the same fifth grade class as Leslie.  Jennifer lives with her mom and dad in Woodburn, and is the only child in her family.  Since both her parents work, she is often responsible for herself after school.  She is learning to start dinner and do household chores to help out.  Jennifer has many friends and an active social life.  Her best friends are Melody James and Brenda Dubrowski. Jennifer’s favorite subjects in school are science and math.  She likes sports (especially soccer), listening to
music, and writing to her pen pal, Jerome.  Jennifer's favorite foods are cinnamon toast and celery with peanut butter.

Jennifer’s first grade teacher noticed that Jennifer was having problems learning, but knew that her difficulties were not due to laziness or lack of effort.  Jennifer became very frustrated and consequently did not want to go to school anymore.  “I was always trying as hard as I could,” says Jennifer.  “It’s just that what I thought was right usually came out wrong!”  Her teacher suggested to Jennifer’s parents that she be tested for a possible learning disability.

Jennifer was tested and diagnosed as having a visual perception problem (VPP).  For Jennifer, VPP means that sometimes she has trouble reading and writing letters in the correct order within words.   She also has a directional problem.  This means she has trouble automatically distinguishing left from right.  That’s why she wears a ring on her right hand–it helps her to differentiate her left from her right. 

This year, Jennifer spends an hour each day in the resource room.  Her resource teacher, Ms. Ricci, and classroom teacher work together to implement learning strategies and to develop any needed modifications.  Jennifer is permitted to invite friends to the resource room where she involves them in learning activities and thus dispels the myth that what happens in the resource room is “baby work.”  Jennifer is fortunate that her learning disability has been identified and she is receiving the help she needs.

Jennifer is discovering that having a learning disability is nothing to be embarrassed about.  Instead, Jennifer talks openly about it, allowing children to see that having a learning disability is no big deal.  She says, “Some things I learn slowly and some things I learn quickly, but I am able to learn just about anything.  I just learn in a different way.  Ms. Ricci teaches me the way I learn best.”