Chapter 5 learning disabilities
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Chapter 5 Learning Disabilities. Brief History. Foundation Phase (1800-1930) – basic scientific research related to the brain – damage to specific areas and corresponding losses.

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Chapter 5 learning disabilities l.jpg
Chapter 5Learning Disabilities


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Brief History

  • Foundation Phase (1800-1930) – basic scientific research related to the brain – damage to specific areas and corresponding losses.

  • Transition Phase (1930-1960) – application of brain research to children. Similarities between characteristic of children with learning problems and adults who have suffered brain injury

  • Integration Phase (1960-1974) – term LD was coined and emphasized perceptual skills


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Learning Disabilities

  • Term coined in 1963

    • Children who were having serious difficulties in learning to read, were hyperactive, or could not solve math problems.

    • Parents liked the term and formed the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities (now ACALD).

  • In 1975 LD was included as a special ed category in IDEA.

  • Largest category in special ed.


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IDEA Definition of Learning Disabilities (LD)

  • A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language

  • May manifest itself in an imperfect ability to:

    • Listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math

  • Does not include learning problem that is the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of MR, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, economical disadvantage.


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The NJCLD Definition of LD

  • A general term that refers to a group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or math abilities

  • Problems with self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may coexist but do not themselves constitute a learning disability

  • Although learning disabilities may occur with other handicapping conditions or with extrinsic influences they are not the result of those influences

  • Why has the concept of LD proven so difficult to define?


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Why so difficult?

  • Different kinds of academic skills student are expected to learn

  • Wide-range of differences among learners

  • No large group of children are expected to learn at the same rate

  • Definition provides no info on how to teach a particular student

  • Better to spend time developing and delivering effective instruction than debating over a definition


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Operationalizing the Definition

Most states require three criteria be met to receive services:

  • Discrepancy between intelligence and achievement

    • An “unexpected” difference between general ability and achievement

  • Exclusion criterion

    • LD can occur with other disabilities but the learning problems must not be “primarily the result” of the other disability or other condition (e.g., low SES)

  • A need for special education services

    • The student shows specific and severe learning problems despite normal educational efforts


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Identifying Students

  • Response to Intervention (RTI) –Process to determine learning disabilities based on the student’s response to scientific, research-based interventions.

  • Standardized Testing – Intelligence and achievement tests.

  • Associated with problems in listening, reasoning, memory, attention, selecting and focusing on relevant stimuli, and perception and processing of specific information.


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Characteristics

  • Students with LD experience one or more of the following difficulties:

    • Reading problems -90% of all children identified

    • Deficits in written language -Perform lower across most written expression tasks

    • Underachievement in math -50% have math IEP goals

    • Poor social skills -75% have social skills deficits

    • Behavioral problems

  • Defining Characteristic

    • Specific and significant achievement deficits in the presence of adequate overall intelligence


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Prevalence

  • LD is by far the largest of all special education categories

    • 51% of all children with disabilities receive services under the LD category

    • 5 out of every 100 students in the U.S. is diagnosed with LD

    • Males with LD outnumber females by 3-to-1

    • The number of children identified is growing


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Question

  • Do most students who are identified as learning disabled have a true disability? Or are they just poor achievers or victims of poor instruction?


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Answer

  • Probably both

  • School defined phenomenon

  • The process of learning academic skills is not fundamentally different from learning other skills – so while LR as specific to certain skills, individuals may have difficulties in learning across a variety of settings and situations.

  • Difficulties in school will not magically disappear after graduation


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Causes

  • In almost every case the cause is unknown

    • Brain damage or dysfunction (CNS)

      • In most cases there is no evidence of brain damage

    • Heredity

      • There is growing evidence that genetics may account for at least some family linkage with dyslexia

    • Biochemical imbalance

      • Flavorings/colors

      • Synthesize vitamins

      • Most professionals give little credence to biochemical imbalance as a cause

    • Environmental factors

      • Impoverished living conditions early in a child’s life and poor instruction probably contribute to achievement deficits

      • Many students’ learning problems can be remediated by direct, intensive, and systematic instruction


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Problem

  • What is the problem of placing too much emphasis on theories linking LD to brain damage dysfunction?


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Problem

  • Not all children with LD display clinical evidence of brain damage and not all children with LD have brain damage

  • Built-in excuse for ineffective instruction

  • Etiology will not alter the methods of teaching the student


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Assessment

Five forms of assessment are frequently used

  • Standardized tests

    • Used to measure achievement and IQ

  • Criterion-referenced tests

    • Student’s score compared to a mastery criterion to identify specific skills in need of instruction

  • Informal reading inventories

    • Used to determine student’s reading level

  • Curriculum-based measurement

    • Frequent assessment of a student’s progress in learning the objectives of the curriculum

  • Direct daily measurement

    • Observing and recording a child’s performance on a specific skill each day it is taught


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Educational Approaches

  • Difficulty organizing information of their own

  • Limited background knowledge to many academic activities

  • Do not approach learning tasks in effective and efficient way


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Educational Approaches

Explicit/Direct instruction

  • Provide a sufficient range of examples to illustrate a concept

  • Provide models of proficient performance

  • Have students explain how and why they make decisions

  • Provide frequent, positive feedback for student performance

  • Provide adequate practice opportunities

    Content enhancements (organization, comprehension and retention)

  • Guided notes

  • Graphic organizers and visual displays

  • Mnemonics

    Learning strategies

  • Students use task-specific strategies to guide themselves successfully through a learning task or problem


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Educational Placement Alternatives

  • Regular classroom

    • During the 99-00 school year, 45% of students with LD were educated in regular classrooms

    • Some school districts employ a collaborative teaching model to support the full inclusion of students with LD

  • Consultant teacher

    • Provides support to regular classroom teachers who work directly with students with learning disabilities

  • Resource room

    • A resource room is a specially staffed and equipped classroom where students with LD come for one or several periods during the school day to receive individualized instruction


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Current Issues and Future Trends

  • The discussion and debate over what constitutes a true learning disability are likely to continue

  • Most professionals and advocates for students with LD do not support full inclusion

  • Students with LD possess positive attributes and interests that teachers should identify and try to strengthen


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Eckert et al. (2002)

  • Purpose: Whether the effectiveness of an antecedent intervention could be enhanced by combining with either of two consequences – reinforcement and feedback.

  • Participants: 6 elementary school students. Experienced reading difficulties.

  • Dependent measure: Number of words read correctly per minute


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Eckert et al. (2002)

  • Independent Variables

    • Antecedent intervention – Listening passage preview and repeated readings

    • AI and Contingent reinforcement – Preferred item delivered contingent upon accuracy (improvement)

    • AI and Performance feedback – Setting goals, information about performance, and graphing

  • Results

    • Combination of AI +CR or PF was more effective than AI alone.


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