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Chapter 11 Learning Disabilities. Learning disabilities relatively new diagnostic label. Problems were likely mistaken for signs of low intelligence,

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 11 Learning Disabilities. Learning disabilities relatively new diagnostic label. Problems were likely mistaken for signs of low intelligence,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 11 Learning Disabilities

2 Learning disabilities relatively new diagnostic label. Problems were likely mistaken for signs of low intelligence, which is incorrect.

3 The term first used in 1963 by Dr. Samuel Kirk –used the term to describe a group of problems that had been previously recognized and studied, but had never been given sufficient organized, formal attention –children with these problems did not fit neatly into any major category of disability condition recognized at the time

4 Most current definitions of learning disabilities include academic performance problems in recent years, concept of learning disabilities has had an extremely important influence on special education Today, children with learning disabilities are the largest group of children with disabilities in the United States

5 Prevalence of Learning Disabilities What is the current estimated prevalence range for learning disabilities, and what does that mean in numbers of children?

6 Imprecise use of the label learning disabilities has made it difficult to determine how many children actually do have these disabilities

7 Definitions of learning disabilities varied greatly over time and between geographical locations In addition, the estimated prevalence of learning disabilities has always varied greatly, with some estimates being so high as to be alarming and questionable

8 Defining Learning Disabilities Why have definitions of learning disabilities varied? –Children with wide variety of problems labeled as having learning disabilities –Definitions often either very loose and vague or tailored to cover those who were already being served in order to justify their special treatment

9 Rapid Growth –The growth of the field of learning disabilities so rapid, undisciplined –No solid, systematic program of scientific investigation on which to base programs of teacher and therapist preparation –Individuals pressed into service frequently had little or no training –Classes for students with learning disabilities quickly became dumping grounds for children with all types of difficulties

10 Definitions Most widely accepted legal definition –General. The term means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia

11 –Disorders not included: The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage

12 –The general term learning disabilities is insufficiently specific for research and instructional purposes The term can be effectively used only as a generalized referent or umbrella term, since it encompasses a variety of specific types of problems

13 Describing and Classifying Learning Disabilities Characteristics attributed to those with learning disabilities

14 Hyperactivity Frequently one of the first behavioral characteristics mentioned –often reported that such children cannot sit still for more than a very short time, fidget a great deal, and are, in general, excessively active –one of the “soft” signs (indirect indicators) of neurological dysfunction

15 Academic Achievement Problems Individuals with learning disabilities encounter significant problems in academic achievement –emergence of learning disabilities as a recognized type of exceptionality driven by the continuing academic problems that such youngsters experience. –accompanied by a number of related problems that may also contribute to poor performance –Academic achievement difficulties are typically the reason why children with learning disabilities are identified in the primary grades

16 Reading 85–90% of students with learning disabilities have reading disabilities In some cases, children lack basic word knowledge and have difficulties with word recognition Many can read only slowly and laboriously when they can accomplish it at all students can often be taught the necessary skills through specific training

17 Writing and Spelling Handwriting may be very labored and slow, may have problems with forming and spacing letters poor spelling skills and rather immature compositional ability –Some researchers connect the handwriting proficiency of students with learning disabilities to their reading ability

18 Mathematics problems with simple counting, writing numbers, and mastering fundamental math concepts Some students omit numbers when counting, while others can count but do not grasp what the numbers mean (their values) many arithmetic problems are word problems that require significant reading skills

19 Perceptual Problems interpreting incoming stimuli incorrectly or not perceiving all of the stimulus features. The notion that perceptual disorders are related to learning disabilities enjoyed considerable popularity over the years –Interest in this view has diminished somewhat –No clear connection between perceptual problems and neurological dysfunction

20 Visual Perception Problems Children with learning disabilities often display difficulties in visual perception Children with visual perception problems may exhibit a variety of specific deficiencies –may see a visual stimulus as unconnected parts

21 Auditory and Haptic Perception Problems Difficulties in four components of auditory perception often been reported, singly or in various combinations – discrimination: may not be able to distinguish between the sounds of certain syllables or words –auditory blending: may be unable to blend the phonic elements of a word together into a consolidated whole as they say the word –auditory memory may not be able to recall information that is presented verbally

22 Attention Problems Children may have an attention problem that limits their information-processing abilities –selective attention: ability to focus attention on important stimuli and screen out or ignore irrelevant stimuli (incidental learning) some children having learning disabilities do not employ selective attention to the same degree that normal children do

23 Social and Emotional learning difficulties seemingly contribute to emotional difficulties and low self-esteem, which, in turn, may affect motivation and academic efforts Such students may also have difficulty interacting with others because of misperceived social cues and problems in discriminating some of the subtle nuances of interpersonal interaction.

24 Developmental Factors Theories of human development have played an important role in the study of learning disabilities for many years –theories regarding developmental delays have been involved in researchers’ frustrated attempts to derive a single, comprehensive theory about the causation of learning disabilities –Developmental theory has been appealed to because performance of children with learning disabilities often resembles that of younger normal children –It has been suggested that youngsters with learning disabilities show differences and delays in neurological development

25 Etiology of Learning Three causes thought to be involved in learning disabilities –Neurological Damage –Genetic Influences –Environmental Influences

26 Neurological Damage Opinions regarding this explanation vary greatly. In most cases, the existence of neurological damage as a cause is presumptive, and credible supportive evidence is lacking Until technologicy permits more precise assessment, determination of a specific neurological problem for children remains unlikely Most likely, some children labeled as having learning disabilities whose problems are based on neurological damage

27 Genetic Influences Some evidence that genetic factors may play a role since learning disabilities tend to run in families However, it is unlikely that any genetic cause can be identified for most or all learning disabilities

28 Environmental Influences Environment must be viewed as a potentially important contributor to learning disabilities (conceived quite broadly) Certain maternal activities are significant during the prenatal period poverty, neglect, food additives, ingestion of lead, inappropriate or poor school instruction Deficient general sensory stimulation has also been implicated as a cause

29 Treatment of Learning Disabilities 3 types of interventions or treatments –Medications –Behavioral Treatment –Instructional Interventions

30 Developmental Considerations Conceptual and explanatory problems associated with learning disabilities serve as a constant reminder to behavioral scientists that it is probably not useful to search for a single theory or a single treatment for use with a diverse group of individuals Careful consideration of the age of the person being treated is required

31 Medications Medication is effective in some areas, such as in improving children’s classroom behavior Not as effective in others, such as enhancing academic achievement or social adjustment on a long-term basis Further, medication may have unfavorable side effects, and potential for abuse exists

32 Behavioral Treatment Used extensively May be aimed at enhancing academic skills or modifying other behavior in some fashion In many cases, used to supplement medical treatment, although they are also widely used as a primary therapy tool Learning strategy interventions may be packaged in formats that have considerable appeal to young students

33 Instructional Interventions Most empirically based treatment approach involves the use of applied behavior analysis principles –precise use of specific stimuli and consequences –permits identification and modification of a wide range of behaviors, but is best suited to simple, easily observed, and countable behaviors –great appeal in educational settings since its specific format can be modified

34 Prognosis for Children with Learning Disabilities How are the services and supports for adolescents and adults with learning disabilities different from those used with children?

35 The prognosis for those with learning disabilities as adults is brighter than ever before research literature on adults with learning disabilities is increasing the literature on learning disabilities has historically focused more on childhood than on adolescence and adulthood. Now research on learning disabilities is increasingly investigating long-term outcomes in adulthood (postsecondary schooling)

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