Introduction Learning disabilities can occur at all intelligence levels. Learning disablity = heterogeneous group of individuals with highly variable, complex characteristics and needs.
Definitions and Classifications Definitions vary considerably. –Due to field’s unique and rapid evolution. –Strong interdisciplinary nature. Samuel Kirk- specific learning disability. Learning disabilities - delays, deviations, and performance discrepancies in basic academic subjects not attributed to mental retardation, sensory deficits, or emotional disturbances. Learning disabilities is an umbrella label.
Definitions and Classifications IDEA ’04 A disorder in understanding or using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Includes perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Delays, deviations, and performance discrepancies in basic academic subjects which are not the result of mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Three major elements in its historical classification systems: –Discrepancy- refers to the notion that there is an identifiable gap between intelligence and achievement in particular areas. –Heterogeneity- refers to the differing array of academic domains where children often demonstrate performance problems. –Exclusion- reflects the idea that learning disabilities cannot be due to the presence of other conditions.
Definitions and Classifications Prior to IDEA ’04 classification criteria = severe discrepancy between intellectual capacity (IQ test) and achievement in 1 or more areas. Under IDEA’ 04, schools can use “response to intervention” (RTI) that is scientific and research based. 5 – 10% of the school age population. Significant levels of comorbidity with ADHD – 25%? Emotional and interpersonal difficulties. –Low self esteem. –Negative emotional consequences.
Figure 6.5 Educational Placements of Students with Learning Disabilities
Characteristics Reading Disorder (Dyslexia) Problems with: –Word knowledge and recognition. –Generalization of letter patterns. –Drawing analogies with flexibility. –Use of context clues and background knowledge. –Ability to identify important ideas. Reading affects other areas. Instruction needed in increasing phonological awareness. More severe learning disability other means needed to access the information. Readng
Language Aphasia is an impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca’s area (impaired speaking) or to Wernicke’s area (impaired understanding).
Characteristics Writing and Spelling (Dysgraphia) –Developmental delays in motor skills –Problems with spatial concepts –Basic transcription processes –Letter reversal and mirror writing Composition –Sentence structure –Paragraph organization –Complexity of stories Relationship between reading and handwriting? Students with learning disabilities also may have problems with spelling skills. –Omitting letters or adding unnecessary ones –Letter order confusion. Written language
Characteristics Mathematics (Dyscalculia) –Counting. –Computation skills –Spatial relationships –Writing numbers or copying shapes. –Mastering simple math concepts. –Measuring –Telling time Mathematics
Characteristics Achievement Discrepancy Students with LD tend to be below their age mates in achievement, but they also perform below what would be expected based on their measured potential. Above average or near average intelligence. Secondary behavioral or emotional concerns. Intra-individual differences among skill areas.
Cognition and Information Processing The way a person acquires, retains, and manipulates information. Many score lower than peers on memory tests. Attention problems. –Short attention spans. –Selective attention.
Characteristics Learning Characteristics Perception difficulties including discrimination problems –Visual discrimination may be unable to distinguish one visual stimulus from another. –Figure-ground discrimination –Auditory discrimination may be unable to distinguish between the sounds of different words or syllables or to identify certain environmental sounds. Auditory blending. Auditory memory. Auditory association. Haptic sensory system deficits result in problems with touch and information transmitted through body movement, position, and kinesthetic information.
Causation Structural neurological damage or some type of neurological activation abnormality. Maturational delay of the neurological system. Genetic abnormalities. Environmental factors (not all are conclusive) –D–Dietary inadequacies. –F–Food additives. –R–Radiation. –S–Stress. –F–Fluorescent lighting. –U–Unshielded television tubes. –S–Smoking. –D–Drinking. –D–Drug consumption.
Assessment Formal assessment - standardized instruments, including intelligence and achievement tests. Informal assessment - teacher made tests or techniques. Assessed using –N–Norm referenced assessment compares an individual’s skill or performance with that of others. –C–Criterion referenced assessment compares an individual’s performance with a desired criterion level. Curriculum based assessment is a form of criterion referenced assessment, uses the objectives in a student’s curriculum as the criterion against which his or her progress is evaluated.
Instructional Approaches Cognitive Training –Self Instruction –Mnemonic Strategies Direct Instruction –Skill training –Task analysis
The elementary school years Academic Instruction and Support Flexible and multiple services or supports. Early intervention. For Mathematics. –Manipulatives. –Commercial programs are available. –Computer technology.
The elementary school years Reading –Pre-reading activities. –Guided practice with feedback. –Direct teaching of skills in summarizing. –Base and sequence instruction within developmental frameworks. –Whole-language strategies. –Individualized and self directed instruction. –Specific skills oriented reading instruction. –Synthetic phonics basals. –Linguistic phonemic programs. –Language experience approaches. –Computer software for assessment and instruction. –Compensatory skills or methods to work around deficits?
The elementary school years Behavioral Interventions Teaching social skills or changing problem behaviors. –Behavioral contracts. –Token reinforcement systems. structured presentation of stimuli reinforcement for correct responses self monitoring
The adolescent years Academic Instruction and Support Drop out of school at a higher rate. Higher rate of unemployment. Attending college in greater numbers than ever, but drop out at higher rates than peers without disabilities. –Motivation. –Self reliance. –Learning strategies. –Social competence. –Skill generalization. The learning strategies approach- promotes self instruction and teaches students how to learn and solve problems (metacognition). Skill building or compensatory skills that permit circumventing deficit areas?
Transition from school to adult life Lifelong impact. Transition services remain sparse for adolescents with LD. –Life goals. –Employment preparation and support. College bound. –Survival skills in higher education. –Resourcefulness and a confident approach to solving problems. –Support network. –Accommodations.
Inclusive education Key factors to inclusive programs include: –Teacher attitudes. –Teacher preparation. –Teacher instructional skills and curriculum –Careful planning that provides for appropriate academic support, student motivation, and social-emotional skill development.