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Learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities.

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learning disabilities1
Learning Disabilities
  • In 1981, the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities defined learning disabilities as “a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities”

These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to central nervous dysfunction

  • Today, this definition still stands as the accepted working definition for purposes of assessment, diagnosis, and categorization of an array of perceptual processing deficits.

Other general terms for a learning disability are minimal brain dysfunction, attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, and hyperactivity.

  • In the past, a learning disability was thought to be a problem involving only children.
  • Now, however, evidence supports the belief that most individuals do not “outgrow” the problem.
  • Indeed, the rate of learning disabilities in adults is probably similar to the rate in children.

The majority of people with learning disabilities have language and/or memory deficits.

  • If you compound their problem with the stresses and anxieties caused by illness and subsequent hospitalization or the pressures of having to perform in an academic setting, you can be assured that they find themselves in a situation that is not at all conducive to learning.

Individuals with learning disabilities appear normal and have been found to have at least average, if not superior (gifted), intelligence.

  • Some very famous and successful people in world history are thought to have had some type of learning disability—Leonardo daVinci, Woodrow Wilson, George Patton, Winston Churchill, Nelson Rockefeller, and Albert Einstein.

Even though there is a large discrepancy between a learning disabled person’s intellectual abilities and his or her performance levels, no cause-and-effect relationship exists: Those who exhibit this discrepancy are not necessarily learning disabled.

myths and fact
  • Myth: Children are labeled “learning disabled” because they can’t learn.
  • Fact: They can learn, but their preferred learning modality must be identified.
  • Myth: Children who have a learning disability must be spoken to more slowly.
  • Fact: Those who learn auditorily may become impatient with slower speech and stop listening; those who learn visually would benefit more from seeing the information.

Myth: Children who are learning disabled just have to try harder.

  • Fact: Telling these children to try harder is turnoff. They already do try hard.
  • Myth: Children outgrow their disabilities.
  • Fact: Children do not outgrow their disabilities. They develop strategies to compensate for and minimize their disabilities.
  • because they are more overt in acting out their frustrations.

Myth: Children with learning disabilities should be treated like everyone else.

  • Fact: That treatment would be unfair; they would not get what they need.
  • Myth: Nearly all children with a learning disability are boys.
  • Fact: Boys are more often referred for proper identification of learning disabilities because they are more overt in acting out their frustrations.

Learning disabilities are not caused by retardation, emotional disturbances, physical impairments (blindness or deafness), or environmental deprivation such as lack of educational opportunity or cultural diversity

  • The factors that may affect learning in a learning disabled person are:
      • memory
      • language
      • motor, and
      • integrative processing disabilities

These factors fall under two general headings:

      • input disabilities
      • output disabilities
  • Input disabilities- the process of receiving and recording information in the brain, include visual perceptual, auditory perceptual, integrative processing, and memory disorders.
  • Output disabilities -the process of orally responding and performing physical tasks, include language and motor disorders.
visual perceptual disorders
Visual Perceptual Disorders
  • This type of disability results in an inability to read or difficulty with reading (dyslexia).
  • Letters of the alphabet may be seen in reverse or rotated order—for example, d is b and p is q or g.
  • Letters also may be confused with one another such as was being perceived as saw.
  • In addition, the individual may have trouble focusing on a particular word or group of words
visual perceptual disorders1
Visual Perceptual Disorders
  • There may be a “figure ground” problem, such that the person is unable to attend to a specific object within a group of objects, such as finding a cup of juice on a food tray.
  • Furthermore, judging distances or positions in space or dealing with special relationships may prove difficult, resulting in the person’s bumping into things, being confused about left hand–right hand or up and down, or being unable to throw a ball or do a puzzle.
teaching strategies
People with visual perceptual deficits tend to be auditory learners

With these individuals, visual stimulation should be kept to a minimum.

Visual materials such as pamphlets or books are ineffective unless the content is explained orally or the information is read aloud

If visual items are used, only one item should be given at any one time with a sufficient period in between times to allow for the information to be focused on and mastered.

Teaching Strategies
teaching strategies1
Because persons with visual perceptual deficits usually learn best through hearing, using CDs and audiotapes (with or without earphones) and verbal instruction are keys in helping them learn.

Recall and retention of information can be assessed by oral questioning, allowing learners to express back to you in oral form what they understand and remember about the content that has been presented.

Teaching Strategies
auditory perceptual disorders
This type of disability is characterized by the inability to distinguish subtle differences in sounds—for example, “blue” and “blow” or “ball” and “bell.”

There also may be a problem with auditory “figure ground,” such that the sound of someone speaking cannot be identified clearly when others are speaking in the same room.

Auditory “lags” may occur, whereby sound input cannot be processed at a normal rate.

Auditory Perceptual Disorders
teaching strategies2
During instruction, it is important to limit the noise level and eliminate distractions in the background

Using as few words as possible and repeating them when necessary (using the same words to avoid confusion) are useful strategies

Direct eye contact helps keep the learner focused on the task at hand.

Teaching Strategies
teaching strategies3
Visual teaching methods such as demonstration– return demonstration, gaming (e.g., puppetry), modeling, and role-playing, as well as provision of visual instructional tools such as written materials, pictures, charts, films, books, puzzles, printed handouts, and the computer are the best ways to communicate information.

Using hand signs for key words when giving verbal instructions and allowing the learner to have hands-on experiences and opportunities for observation are useful techniques.

Directions for learning via these methods and tools should be in written form.

Teaching Strategies
teaching strategies4
The visual learner may intently watch your face for the formation of words, expressions, eye movements, and hand gestures

Awareness to these details may have developed as a compensatory strategy to aid comprehension.

If the learner does not understand something being taught, he or she may exhibit frustration in the form of irritability and inattentiveness.

Teaching strategies
Individuals with either visual or auditory perceptual problems often rely on tactile learning as well.

They enjoy doing things with their hands, want to touch everything, prefer writing and drawing, engage in physical exploration, and enjoy physical movement through sports activities

integrative processing disorders
An inability to sequence or abstract visual, auditory, or tactile stimuli is characteristic of this type of disability.

A child who has difficulty sequencing information may read and understand the word dog as god because the letters d, o, and g are processed in the incorrect order.

Abstraction is the inability to infer meaning from words or phrases; that is, the specific intended meaning of words or thoughts is misunderstood

Integrative Processing Disorders
teaching strategies5
Those with an integrative processing disability need specific explanations.

You should avoid using confusing phrases, puns, or sarcasm with such patients.

Frequently ask the person to repeat or demonstrate what was learned to immediately clear up any misconceptions

Teaching strategies
short term or long term memory disorders
Short-term memory refers to information that is remembered as long as one is attending to it

Long-term memory consists of information that has been repeated and stored and becomes available whenever you think about it

Individuals with short-term memory deficits may be unable to recall what they learned an hour before, but they may be able to recall the information at a later point in time.

Short-Term or Long-Term Memory Disorders
teaching strategies6
People with both short- and long-term memory disabilities need brief, frequent, repetitive teaching sessions for constant reinforcement of information.Teaching strategies
language disorders
Language Disorders
  • There are two types of oral language—
    • spontaneous (initiating a conversation)
    • and demand (asking a question)
  • With spontaneous language, persons select a topic, organize their thoughts, and choose the correct words to express themselves orally.
  • Demand language occurs when someone else starts a conversation and poses questions for another person to answer.
  • In response to demand language, the language disabled person may panic and answer, “Huh?” or “What?” or “I don’t know.”
teaching strategies7
If you detect this response pattern(demand language disabled person), allowing sufficient time either to process the information received or to formulate a response will reduce barriers to communication as a result of anxiety and frustration.

For persons with either type of language disability, the greatest gift you can give them is time—time to process internal thoughts, to find words, and then to speak for the purpose of initiating a conversation or responding with answers to questions.

Teaching strategies
adaptive techniques
• Provide information on tape, or give a learner the option of responding to questions orally with a tape recorder.

• Use hand signs for key words when giving verbal directions.

• Use hands-on experience or observation.

• Highlight important information.

• Use a computer.

• Capitalize on teachable moments.

• Use puzzles.

• Appeal to all senses—auditory, visual, and tactile.

• Use mnemonics

• Use a cognitive map

• Use an active reading strategy such as SQ3R (skim, question, read, rehearse, revise).

Adaptive techniques:
motor disorders
Learning psychomotor tasks will be difficult if the individual has problems with performing gross and fine motor tasks.

Often people with this type of disability will avoid such tasks because of inadequate motor skills. For example, they will shy away from using writing as a form of communication because it requires fine motor coordination to accomplish.

Motor Disorders
teaching strategies8
Instead of forcing them to handwrite, providing a tape recorder to allow them to demonstrate their knowledge of information is a good substitute.

Depending on the disabled person’s auditory and visual strengths, computers, typewriters, and preprinted materials may prove helpful tools for teaching and learning.

Safety also is always a concern for those with gross motor difficulties because they are prone to clumsiness, stumbling, or falling.

The environment should be kept as uncluttered as possible to avoid injury and embarrassment

Teaching strategies

The ability to pay attention is an important prerequisite to success in school and work.

  • Any difficulty with attending skills can have an adverse effect on learning.
  • The American Psychiatric Association holds that attention deficit disorder is an appropriate term to use in such cases because in these persons difficulties are prominent and almost always present.
  • The onset of ADD is before the age of seven years.
3 major subtypes of add
3 Major Subtypes of ADD
  • Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADDH)
  • Attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity(ADDNOH)
  • Attention deficit disorder, residual type.

The exact cause of ADD is unknown, but its primary characteristics are signs of inattention and impulsivity that are developmentally inappropriate.

  • The child often fails to finish projects, seems not to listen, is easily distracted, and has difficulty concentrating.
  • Other thoughts, sights, or sounds keep getting in their way, especially when the task is difficult or uninteresting.
  • The child acts before thinking, switches from activity to activity, requires much supervision, and has difficulty with organization of time, work, and belongings.

Hyperactivity (ADDH) often accompanies the inattentiveness and impulsivity.

  • The older child and adolescent may be extremely restless and fidgety.
  • His or her behavior tends to be haphazard, poorly organized, and not goal directed.
  • ADD, residual type, is sometimes used to identify older adolescents who were previously identified as ADDH at a younger age but who no longer exhibit hyperactivity.
  • ADD affects children with average ability as well as those who are gifted.
  • This problem and other learning disabilities frequently occur together.
teaching strategies9
Teaching Strategies
  • Before embarking on any educational intervention with these children, have an open discussion with the child and the parents to determine what works best for them.
  • Most older children have been involved in special programs at school that, among other things, help the child use specific learning strategies consistently, which is of primary importance.
  • Provide new information to such patients in a quiet environment, which may necessitate using another place for the teaching session than the child’s hospital room.

When giving instructions or assigning a task, give directions one at a time, and divide the work into small parts.

  • Reward achievement, and ignore inappropriate behavior.
  • Eliminate as much distraction as possible.
  • Encourage the older child to keep a notebook and to write the instructions down.
  • In summary, it is important to stress that learning disabled people are not mentally retarded; they just learn differently.
  • They may have one or more disabilities, ranging from mild to severe.
  • The challenge is to determine how the client learns best and then to adapt your teaching strategies to meet their preferred style of learning—auditory, visual, or tactile.
  • The most reliable way to determine what accommodations need to be made in your teaching approach is to ask learning disabled individuals about problems they encounter in processing information and what they find to be the most appropriate instructional methods and tools to help them with learning.
  • In the case of children, questions should be directed to both the child and the parents.
  • Individuals’ strengths and weaknesses with respect to learning can be identified through direct, individualized assessment.
  • A teaching plan can then be developed to promote learning through use of strategies that compensate for or minimize the effect of their disability.