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What we know about learning disabilities and how to help children who have them. Presented by Denise J. Hanson, Psy.D. March 9, 2006. Does your child have a learning disability?. What a learning disability is Some common signs of learning disabilities Types of learning disabilities

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What we know about learning disabilities and how to help children who have them.

Presented by Denise J. Hanson, Psy.D.

March 9, 2006

Does your child have a learning disability?
this presentation will cover
What a learning disability is

Some common signs of learning disabilities

Types of learning disabilities

Causes of learning disabilities

Basic facts about learning disabilities

How learning disabilities are identified and diagnosed

What can be done about learning disabilities

IDEA 2004

Questions

This presentation will cover:
definition of learning disability
DEFINITION OF LEARNING DISABILITY:
  • The public school system uses the term “Learning Disability”. The medical classification system uses the term “Learning Disorder”. A new term now used by educators and clinicians is “Learning Difference” or “Differences in Learning”.
  • A learning disability is a neurologically-based processing disorder resulting from “faulty” wiring in the cortex. Depending on what part of the cortex is affected, the student will have problems with learning, language, and/or motor function.
definition of learning disability1
DEFINITION OF LEARNING DISABILITY:
  • These processing difficulties might involve understanding or using language, spoken or written, resulting in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Individuals with learning disabilities are of at least average intellectual ability or higher. They struggle in school because of these processing problems.
  • Learning disabilities might impact learning to read, write, or do basic math or reading comprehension, written language, or more complex math.
definition of learning disabilities
DEFINITION OF LEARNING DISABILITIES:
  • Learning disabilities might impact the student’s ability to organize materials and thoughts or to plan a task and carry out that plan. Thus, some problems are apparent in the earlier school years; some are not apparent until late elementary school; and still others show up in middle or high school. In any grade, the problem is struggling with school work, possibly with failing grades. (LDA)
  • You might hear that homework is a battle every night. Unfortunately, some teachers and parents blame the victim. They complain that the student is lazy or unmotivated.
some common signs of learning disabilities
Some common signs of learning disabilities:
  • Reading: problems with syntax or grammar; poor reading ability or poor comprehension; difficulties with phonics
  • Writing: problems with sentence structure, writing mechanics and organization; may spell the same word differently in the same paper
  • Math: problems with numerical operations, math facts, or concepts; may reverse numbers
  • Language: problems with comprehension of what is said or may misinterpret language; may respond in an inappropriate manner, unrelated to what is said; may be able to explain things orally, but not in writing
some common signs of learning disabilities1
Some common signs of learning disabilities:
  • Auditory: may be bothered by different frequencies of sound; may consistently misunderstand what is being said
  • Cognitive: may acquire new skills slowly; may have difficulties following directions, especially multiple directions
  • Motor: may have problems with fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil; may have poor coordination; not good in sports
  • Memory: may be able to learn information presented in one way, but not in another; may have difficulties memorizing
some common signs of learning disabilities2
Some common signs of learning disabilities:
  • Organization: may have difficulties following a schedule or being on time; may have trouble learning about time
  • Social: may have difficulties with social skills; may misinterpret non-verbal social cues; may experience social isolation
  • Attention: may have short attention span or be impulsive; may be easily distracted; may experience stress on extended mental effort
types of learning disabilities
Types of learning disabilities:
  • Dyslexia: difficulties processing language; difficulties with reading
  • Dyscalculia: difficulties with math concepts and numerical operations; difficulty learning to count by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s
  • Dysgraphia: difficulties with handwriting; written expression
  • Dyspraxia: difficulties with motor coordination; fine motor skills
types of learning disabilities1
Types of learning disabilities:
  • Auditory Processing Disorder: difficulties interpreting auditory information; may impact both language development and reading
  • Nonverbal Learning Disorder: difficulties with nonverbal cues; social skill deficits; visual-spatial difficulties
  • Visual Processing Disorder: difficulties interpreting visual information; difficulties with copying
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: difficulties with concentration and focus; impulsivity
causes of learning disabilities
Causes of learning disabilities:
  • New evidence seems to show that most learning disabilities do not stem from a single, specific region of the brain, but from difficulties in bringing together information from various brain regions
  • Today, a leading theory is that learning disabilities stem from subtle disturbances in brain structures and functions. Some scientists believe, that, in many cases, the disturbance begins before birth
learning disabilities may be due to
Learning disabilities may be due to:
  • Heredity – often learning disabilities run in the family, so it’s not uncommon to find that people with LD have parents or other relatives with similar difficulties – recent research has found a gene linked to dyslexia
  • Problems during pregnancy and birth – LD may be caused by illness or injury during or before birth. It may also be caused by drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, low birth weight, lack of oxygen and premature or prolonged labor
  • Incidents after birth – head injuries, nutritional deprivation and exposure to toxic substances (i.e. lead) can contribute to LD
learning disabilities are not caused by
Learning disabilities are not caused by:
  • Economic disadvantage
  • Environmental factors
  • Cultural or differences
  • Poor parenting
basic facts about learning disabilities
Basic facts about learning disabilities:
  • Nearly 2.9 million students are currently receiving special education services for LD in the US (2002)
  • The majority of all individuals with learning disabilities have difficulties in the area of reading
  • Two-thirds of secondary students with learning disabilities are reading three or more grade levels behind. 20% are reading five or more grade levels behind (2003)
  • More than 27% of children with learning disabilities drop out of high school, compared to 11% of the general student population (2002)
basic facts about learning disabilities1
Basic facts about learning disabilities:
  • Two-thirds (66%) of high school graduates with learning disabilities were rated “not qualified” to enter a four-year college, compared to 37% of non-disabled graduates (1999)
  • Research suggests that the prevalence of learning disabilities in the general population ranges from 2% to 10%. Some research suggests that the prevalence could be as high as 10%
  • ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood. ADHD affects an estimated 4% to 12% of 6 – 12 year old children in the US (2005)
how are learning disabilities identified and diagnosed
How are learning disabilities identified and diagnosed?
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) explicitly prescribes evaluation procedures for students
  • IDEA 2004 has replaced IDEA 1997. IDEA 2004 contains several significant changes, including new provisions regarding how schools can determine whether a child has a specific learning disability (SLD), and may, therefore need special education services
diagnosis of ld and eligibility
Diagnosis of LD and Eligibility:
  • IDEA 1997 proposed that a discrepancy model between aptitude and achievement be used
  • IDEA 2004 proposes that school districts can decide to use either a formula that requires a “severe discrepancy” between achievement and intellectual ability, or a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures
north carolina and idea 2004
North Carolina and IDEA 2004:
  • The NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI), Exceptional Children Division currently has a pilot program operating in 8 school systems that will provide information to help school systems implement a “response to intervention” process. This school year, it is unlikely that any changes in the method of “labeling” a student as learning disabled will happen
how are learning disabilities identified and diagnosed1
How are learning disabilities identified and diagnosed?
  • If a parent chooses to have their child evaluated outside the schools, by a private, qualified professional, what might they expect?
evaluation for ld
Evaluation for LD:
  • Tests commonly used
    • Aptitude or IQ tests (WAIS III; WISC IV)
    • Achievement tests (WJ III; WIAT II)
    • Reading tests (GORT series)
    • Writing tests (TOWL)
cost of an ld evaluation
Cost of an LD evaluation:
  • Costs vary depending upon the tests used. Range is usually between $500 - $1500. This includes a report. Insurance companies do not pay for educational testing.
what can be done
What can be done?
  • Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • Section 504
    • is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met
what can be done3
What can be done?
  • Children with learning disabilities have many strengths. Parents and teachers need to help children with LD to find and maximize their strengths
what can be done4
What can be done?
  • Instructional strategies in the classroom that meet the child’s unique learning needs and style
  • Accommodations in the classroom, such as preferential seating and extended time for tests
  • Interventions, such as 1: 1 instruction outside the classroom
what can be done5
What can be done?
  • Parents and teachers need to work together
  • Clinicians and teachers/educators need to work together
  • Parents and teachers need more education about LD and the short and long term effects of LD in a person’s life
  • Parents and teachers need more information about what they can do to help a child with LD
tips for parents
Tips for parents:
  • Help your child find their strengths and/or passion
  • Help your child find their “island of competence”
  • Help your child accept both his/her strengths and weaknesses
  • Explore and make available opportunities for success
  • Be careful with how you criticize your child
  • Avoid homework wars
  • Set realistic goals
tips for parents1
Tips for parents:
  • Most of all
    • Accept your child for who they are
    • Don’t blame your child for their learning differences. It is not their fault
    • Let your child be involved. Listen to your child. Be aware of his/her feelings
    • Your child’s self-esteem is very important. Help your child to have a healthy self-esteem
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