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Goals. Understanding of Learning Disabilities Why do we want to help? How can we help? Potential pitfalls Specific task needs of children with a LD. Hierarchy of Neurodevelopmental Status. Variation Leads to a developmental weakness (Ex. Expressive language) Dysfunction

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  • Understanding of Learning Disabilities
  • Why do we want to help?
  • How can we help?
  • Potential pitfalls
  • Specific task needs of children with a LD

Hierarchy of Neurodevelopmental Status


Leads to a developmental weakness

(Ex. Expressive language)


Interferes with acquisition of a particular skill (Ex. Writing)


The impaired skill is integral to productivity and acquisition of reasonable gratification in our society



Social behavior and interactions, Home environment, Critical life events, Mood, Health,etc.

Resilience, Malleability

Learning process

Academic performance, Skill, Interest, Self- esteem, etc.



  • Complete medical history and examination
  • Tests
    • IQ
    • Academic achievement
  • Informal classroom observation
  • Psychological assessment as indicated
assistive technology
Assistive Technology
  • Bypass strategy; it “Helps to get the job done.”


Instructional software

  • Develops specific academic skills
computers how do they help
Computers—How do they help?
  • Tool to expand a child’s access to the curriculum, not purely for remediation
  • Increase interest and motivation
  • Immediate feedback
  • Don’t give negative comments
  • The “Great Equalizer” for kids with writing difficulties
potential pitfalls
Potential Pitfalls
  • Too much information can be counterproductive
  • “The less clutter on the screen, the better”
  • Make programs modifiable (speed, number of problems, instructional level)
  • Make small increments between levels (don’t get “too hard too fast”)
  • Allow limited number of attempts at a response to discourage guessing
more pitfalls
More Pitfalls
  • Provide clues to the correct answer when the student makes an error
  • Need good record keeping capability, so students can track their progress and set goals
  • Offer built-in instructional aides (particularly in math programs), such as number lines, fraction strips, etc.
  • Use real life scenarios (esp. for math)
what else
What else?
  • Frequently need to look at the curriculum and then ask how tools might assist the student in the learning process/ achieving outcomes
types of computer based at interventions
Types of Computer-based AT Interventions
  • Spell checks
  • Word prediction
  • Word processing
  • Proofreading programs
  • Outlining
  • Graphic organizers
  • Speech recognition
  • Screen readers
  • Calculators and electronic math worksheets
important questions
Important Questions
  • What are the specific needs to be met?
  • What abilities/strengths are required to use the AT?
  • What setting will it be used in?
  • Age-group targeting
  • Need simple operating instructions
  • What system will it work in?
  • Technical support
signs of weak language skills
Signs of Weak Language Skills
  • Asks to have things repeated
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Uses the wrong words or gets mixed up
  • Difficulty telling a story
basic tasks in reading
Basic Tasks in Reading
  • Phonemic awareness: Hear speech sounds and tell them apart
  • Phonics: Match sounds to letters and make them into words
  • Semantics: Word knowledge
  • Syntax: Sentence comprehension
  • Fluency/Discourse processing: Ability to read quickly and fluently to remember and understand what has been read
reading comprehension tasks
Reading Comprehension Tasks
  • Increasing vocabulary
  • Understanding word parts and changes in the inflections of words (present)
  • Understand meanings and relationships between words
  • Know the rules for putting words into sentences
  • Having background knowledge
  • Phonology
  • Segmentation
  • Visual recall (grapheme)
  • Rule recall
  • Morphology/Semantics
  • Reading skill
writing tasks
Writing Tasks
  • Concept development/Ideation
  • Expressive language: Communication
  • Organization: Sentence structure, Paragraph structure
  • Memory functions:
    • Long term--Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, Beginning and ending
    • Short-term—Copying, Note-taking
  • Fine motor coordination
the wrath of math
The Wrath of Math
  • Effective memory functions (factual recall, procedural recall, pattern recognition, multi-tasking)
  • Accurate spatial processing
  • Concept formation
  • Language ability
  • Problem-solving skills
broader tasks
Broader Tasks
  • Accessing the web to learn
  • Understanding of Learning Disabilities
  • Why do we want to help?
  • How can we help?
  • Benefits and Pitfalls of AT
  • What are the underlying tasks that children with LD struggle with?
  • Educational Care by Mel Levine, M.D.