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Changing Definitions of Learning Disabilities Chapter 1.

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1 Changing Definitions of Learning Disabilities Chapter 1

2 Historical Phases Clinical ( ) LD differentiated from other disabilities Classroom Transition ( ) classroom instruction Consolidation ( ) political pressure to consolidate various groups into one field Expansion ( ) increase number of children identified as services are ensured Retrenchment ( ) lack of adequate definition, increased #s ID and questions about services provided with recommendations for inclusion Revitalization (2002) President’s Commission recommend changes

3 Clinical Phase Recognized group of children different from children with MR Research took place in non-school setting where students with LD received their education Medical model

4 Visual-Perceptual/Motor Impaired visual perception and delayed motor development, emphasis on brain- based perceptual & motor disabilities Kirk Goldstein: studied veterans after WWI – figure-ground problems (Gestalt), letter-reversal errors and design-copying. Used the term brain injured

5 Visual-Perceptual Cont. Strauss and Werner (Wayne County Training School) clinical setting w/ children whose retardation resulted from nongenetic factors- exogenous. Recommended educational program with reduced exposure to distracting stimuli Cruickshank & Frostig:problems with intrasensory integration (optic nerve to motor nervous system)

6 Language Theorists Viewed academic achievement in terms of language usage Samuel Kirk:worked with children with speech delays, neurological basis Samuel Orton:normal dominance of one brain hemisphere in language (usually left side by age 7)was lacking. Developed educational approach that included phonic and kinesthetic aids Grace Fernald: developed teaching approach focusing on multisensory basis, using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile means

7 Classroom Transition Phase Education for students with learning disabilities was not legally mandated, students received services in clinics. Used the term minimal brain dysfunction Visual-Motor: Cruickshank focused on distractibility & hyperactivy, wrote influential methods text concerning the education of individual with LD Language: Samuel Kirk publication of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities to identify visual & auditory-based language deficits

8 Consolidation Phase Advocacy groups joined with parents with children with learning disabilities Kennedy created a national office – the Division for Handicapped Children to oversee research – opened the door for public funding

9 First Definition of LD Kirk recognized common element among perceptual and language problems with inability to learn not caused by low intelligence or environmental factors: A retardation, disorder, or delayed development in one or more of the processes of speech, language, reading, spelling writing, or arithmetic resulting from a possible cerebral dysfunction and/or emotional or behavioral disturbance and not from mental retardation, sensory deprivation, or cultural or instructional factors. (Kirk, 1962)

10 Task Force I Definition Imperative to establish a national identity for individuals with LD and to exclude them from MR – group used term minimal brain dysfunction Children of near average, average, or above average general intelligence with certain learning or behavioral disabilities ranging from mild to severe, which are associated with deviations of function of the central nervous system. These deviations may manifest themselves by various combinations of impairment in perception, conceptualization, language, memory, and control of attention, impulse, or motor function. (Clements, 1966)

11 Early Federal Definition Definition to include all children who needed services but excluded other low-achieving children whose performance is not related to disability. Children with special learning disabilities exhibited a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written languages. These may be manifested in disorder of listening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, spelling, or arithmetic. They include conditions which have been referred to as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, developmental aphasia, etc. They do not include learning problems which are due primarily to visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, to mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental disadvantage. (Kirk, 1988)

12 Emergence of Behavioral Perspective Concentration on specific measurable behaviors rather than cognitive processes Argued that instruction in special education classes should concentrate on specific skills that students would utilize in their everyday world Specific academic skills that form the school curriculum should be the basis for assessment and remediation Instituted criterion reference testing

13 Expansion Phase Passage of Pl in 1975: special ed. classes were established nationwide. With the vague definition of LD, the school- aged population skyrocketed from 2% to 3.8% in 1983 to 5% in 1990’s Today, 50% of students with disabilities are identified as LD

14 Federal Definition (IDEA ‘97) The term “specific learning disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Such term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Such term does not include a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

15 National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical disabilities.These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning disabilities.

16 National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance) or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those conditions or influences.

17 Metacognition Theory Torgesen: suggests children with LD do not or cannot develop the type of task-planning and task-execution strategies to complete school work. Children need to think about and plan out their thinking Students were unengaged or inactive in learning Included emotional and personality factors-low concepts High external control (grades and success was based on chance or the whim of the teacher Deshler: learning strategies for secondary school students using acronyms and specific plans for particular learning situations

18 Retrenchment Phase Definition problems and over-identification problems, plus movement toward inclusion questioned the field of special ed. Controversy on whether inclusion can address the specific needs of students with LD Inclusion may reduce the stigma associated with special education

19 Emerging Theoretical Views Constructivism : learners construct knowledge based on background information and connections between ideas, facts and concepts. “Holistic” thought conceptualizing of the whole rather than task-analysis. Multiple Intelligences : IQ is multifaceted, various abilities in various areas (linguistic, logico-mathematical, musical-rhythmic, visual-spacial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal) Brain-Compatible Learning : MRI and PET scans have increased our understanding on how learning takes place. Additional phases of memory (short-term is refined to working memory). Suggestions to teachers: provide verbal practice, “wait time” (10-20 sec.) for a response

20 Revitalization Phase Bush appointed a Commission on Excellence in Special Education in 2001 concerned with retrenchment phase Recommended simplifying the assessment procedures for special education Collapsing the current 13 disabilities into 3 broad categories Sensory dis. – visual, hearing imp. deaf/blind Physical/neurological dis. – multiple disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injury, and other health imp. Developmental dis.- learning dis., speech/language, emotional disturbance, and mild MR

21 Basic Psychological Processes Memory (short and long term) Auditory, visual, haptic discrimination Sequencing Attention Organization Psychomotor skills/visual motor integration Conceptualization/reasoning skills Social perception

22 Academic Discrepancy Areas Oral expression Listening comprehension Written expression Basic reading skills Reading comprehension Mathematical calculation Mathematical reasoning

23 Criticisms of the Discrepancy Method Problems with IQ tests Intelligence of students with LD may be underestimated; high correlation with achievement measures Failure to discriminate between groups of poor readers Difficulty in identifying students in the early grades


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