Learning Disabilities. Martha Van Leeuwen University of Kansas Resources for Paraeducators Website. Learning Disabilities.
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What is a learning disability?IDEA defines learning disabilities as the followingPart A defines the terms used in the law."Specific learning disability" is defined as follows:The term "specific learning disability" means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
Students with learning disabilities have specific rights to special education under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities are legally entitled to special services to help them overcome and accommodate their learning problems. Such services include education programs designed to meet the needs of these students. The Acts also protect people with dyslexia against unfair and illegal discrimination.
Dyslexia is a common reading disability that affects some students in the areas of decoding and automatic word recognition. Dyslexia can refer to a variety of different symptoms. Many students with dyslexia also have difficulties with language skills, specifically reading. Students with dyslexia can also have other difficulties with skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.
A student may have a Fluency Disability in which the student has difficulty reading fluently. Students with a fluency disability ready with a lot of effort and with little expression. They are also inconsistent (usually slow) in their reading speed and use inappropriate pauses. Lastly, a student may be able to read words in isolation but struggle when reading the same words in a text.
Students may also struggle with Comprehension Difficulties after reading a text. The student may be able to recall specific facts of the story but will have difficulty understanding and identifying main themes or conclusions of the text. Students with comprehension difficulties have a limited vocabulary and may have difficulty using various strategies to help them understand what they are reading.
Students with writing disabilities may have a combination of various problems and usually do not enjoy writing. Students with writing disabilities not only suffer from the act of writing, but can also struggle when they are required to elaborate on content in essays or compositions. Due to their disability, the student takes so much time concentrating on how to write, it is difficult to take the time for focusing on the content.
Dysgraphia is a writing disability that causes children to have difficulty with legibility of handwriting. Students with dysgraphia have illegible or very poor writing and have an awkward pencil grip or wrist position. Students may also suffer from hand fatigue and form their letters and punctuation very slowly, with great effort.
Disorder of Written Expression is when students have difficulty expressing their ideas. Students may have poor grammar, spelling difficulty, and unable to use punctuation correctly. Also students may omit letters from various words or entire words from sentences. Sentences will be incomplete or be written as a run on sentence using minimal punctuation. Lastly, students will have difficulty organizing their thoughts into paragraphs or writing compositions.
Students with math disabilities can have a variety of difficulties ranging from being unable to recognize numbers to having difficulties with word problems and understanding patterns or relationships. Math disabilities are usually seen to be caused by a variety of cognitive difficulties. These may be memory, attention, and visual-spatial abilities. Math also relies on language such as reading and writing, which causes child with difficulties in reading to also struggle with math.
Students struggling with math can have a problem with memory. When trying to memorize math facts, students need to learn them and store in their memory or they will not be able to recall. Memory may look different such as being able to learn and store the facts initially, but struggle when they must retrieve the facts quickly. Another area of memory that can be affected is remembering sequences for solving calculation problems. This is called working memory which is the ability to hold information in the memory while performing a different task. If a student has difficulty with their working memory or any other area of memory, it will affect their ability to solve math problems successfully.
There are other factors that can cause a student to struggle with math. Organization is one of them as it can interfere with the student’s ability to solve a problem on paper in a way that the teacher and the student can understand. Students who have attention issues or are impulsive will struggle with accuracy of math it will lead to hurried responses or not taking the time to solve a problem accurately. Lastly, student who exhibits a very slow pace in retrieving facts or procedures will struggle with math as they will have difficulty completing work in a timely manner.