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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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brief history
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
learning disabilities
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.
idea definition of learning disabilities ld
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.
the njcld definition of ld
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?
why so difficult
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
operationalizing the definition
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
identifying students
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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Do most students who are identified as learning disabled have a true disability? Or are they just poor achievers or victims of poor instruction?
  • 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
  • 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
  • What is the problem of placing too much emphasis on theories linking LD to brain damage dysfunction?
  • 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

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
educational approaches
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
educational approaches18
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
educational placement alternatives
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
current issues and future trends
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
eckert et al 2002
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
eckert et al 200222
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.