Life Development Institute (LDI) offers a high school program, a residential program, and a summer academy for students ages 16 and older who have learning disabilities, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and other social or learning issues.  Yet, that statement alone does not always offer clarity as to the specific students who attend LDI and learn to live as independent persons maintaining emotional and physical well-being while contributing to their community.  Therefore, it is necessary to take a look at our student population and identify persons who benefit from their education at Life Development Institute.  During this blog, the focus will be on students who have learning disabilities and how LDI truly is a good program these youth and young adults.   

To begin, a learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language.  The disability may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.  Every individual with a learning disability is unique and shows a different combination and degree of difficulties.  A common characteristic among people with learning disabilities is uneven areas of ability, “a weakness within a sea of strengths.”  For instance, a person with dyslexia who struggles with reading, writing and spelling may be very capable in math and science.

Additionally, learning disabilities should not be confused with learning problems, which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages.  Generally speaking, people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence.  However, there often appears to be a gap between the individual’s potential and actual achievement.  This is why learning disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities:” the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.  A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in school, at work, in relationships, and in the community.

At LDI, the strength-based (non-disability) approach, evidence-based, and peer-validated pragmatic model addresses specific developmental, academic, and career needs of underprepared students with learning disabilities.  The education occurs through several levels in transition to independent and self-supported living, which includes earning a high school diploma, starting college, and achieving careers through employment compatible with unique capabilities.  The purpose of the program is to create a practical and inclusive bridge between the secondary and higher education/career development aspirations for under-prepared and under-represented youth and young adults with learning disabilities.  This education culminates in improved readiness and success in college or career programs, interpersonal effectiveness, increased self-esteem and confidence, obtained work experience, and development of self-advocacy and leadership skills.

In fact, the following improvements have been recognized in students with learning disabilities after attending Life Development Institute:

  • Make logical connections between his wants and needs across a variety of adult life decisions.
  • More self-aware of how their behavior affects the positive development of peer relationships.
  • Awareness and improved performance in commonly accepted and practiced social graces.
  • Able to appreciate/enjoy their life progress rather than use invalid comparisons of their parents, siblings, or peers at the same age.
  • Can make informed career planning decisions by utilizing a system of tools/methods that recognize & build on individual assets and manage functional limitations.
  • Demonstrate independent ability to identify, enroll, and complete college or career programming with passing grades/scores.
  • Manage personal disclosures of learning disabilities by choosing the right time and place to do so.
  • Able to conduct an independent job search, interview, accept and retain competitive employment for at least 120 continuous days.
  • Comprehend and appreciate that employers expect all employees to perform certain job functions in specific ways.
  • Understand and comply with the policy/procedure demands of a particular work setting.
  • Successfully lived on their own, managed daily tasks of independent living, and began to support themselves financially.

For more information on Life Development Institute and its programs, please call (623) 773-1545 or email