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Chapter 6. Persons with Learning Disabilities. ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS. How have the definitions of learning disabilities changed over time? How has the history of learning disabilities changed over time? Why is LD the largest category of special education today?

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chapter 6

Chapter 6

Persons with Learning Disabilities

essential questions
  • How have the definitions of learning disabilities changed over time?
  • How has the history of learning disabilities changed over time?
  • Why is LD the largest category of special education today?
  • What causes a Learning Disability?
  • What are general and specific characteristics of students with LD?
  • What assessments help to identify LD?

7. What are three effective instructional approaches for students with LD?

  • What plans & accommodations can be made for adolescents & adults with Learning Disabilities?

9. How can technology be used to assist students with Learning Disabilities?

written work 10 year old
The space mam is warking on the moom the gue in the bull dosser and gasing to tray to mave durt at last to the other guy so he could buled a munton and try to buld a citey so mady pupely can liabe on the moon.

The space man is working on the moon the guy in the bulldozer is going to try to move dirt at last to the other guy so he could build a mountain and try to build a city so maybe people can live on the moon.

Written work, 10-year-old:
recognize this
Recognize this?
  • Who I ronwed kinwetl

Ttlle ar htw kinwelt

Tawh ouy era

learning disabilities
Learning Disabilities
  • Samuel Kirk, 1962

“…A retardation, disorder or delayed development in one or more of the processes of speech, language, reading, writing, arithmetic, or other school subjects resulting from a psychological handicap caused by possible cerebral dysfunction and/or emotional or behavioral disturbances. It is not the result of mental retardation, sensory deprivation, or cultural and instructional factors.”

specific learning disabilities act of 1969
Specific Learning Disabilities Act of 1969
  • Disorder in basic psychological processes
    • Spoken and written language
  • Manifested in specific disorders
    • Listening, thinking, talking, reading, writing, spelling, or arithmetic
  • Included were perceptual handicaps, brain injury minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, developmental aphasia
  • Not included were learning problems attributed to:
    • Visual, hearing, or motor handicaps
    • Mental retardation, emotional disturbances
    • Environmental disadvantage
idea 101 476 i
IDEA (101-476) I
  • Specific learning disability
    • Disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in
      • Understanding or using language, spoken or written
        • May manifest in an imperfect ability to
          • LISTEN
          • SPEAK
          • READ
          • WRITE
          • SPELL
idea 101 476 ii
IDEA (101-476) II
  • The term learning disability includes
    • Perceptual handicaps
    • Brain injury
    • Minimal brain dysfunction
    • Dyslexia
    • Developmental aphasia
  • The term learning disability does not include learning difficulties resulting primarily from
    • Visual, hearing, or motor handicaps
    • Mental retardation or emotional disturbance
    • Environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage

(U.S. Office of Education, 1977, p. 65083)

ld definition continued
LD Definition, continued***
  • Basic psychological processes means ability to interpret information received through :
    • auditory means (oral)
    • Visual means (sight)
    • Kinesthetic means (motor)
    • Tactile means (touch)
  • ….and to communicate information through these channels.
severe discrepancy
Severe Discrepancy
  • Discrepancy between student’s academic performance and his or her estimated or assumed ability or potential
    • Based on assumption of overall average to above average IQ
    • A discrepancy of two or more years below expected performance levels in one academic area
    • Parameters not specified nor authorized by federal definition
ld strengths weaknesses
LD - strengths & weaknesses












controversial definitions
Controversial Definitions
  • National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, 1981
    • Heterogeneous groups
    • Concomitant handicapping conditions
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America, 1986
    • Chronic condition of neurological origin varying in manifestation and degree
      • Affecting self-esteem, education, vocation, socialization, and/or daily living activities
history of the field learning disabilities
History of the Field Learning Disabilities
  • Four phases
    • Foundation (1800-1930)
    • Transition (1930-1960)
    • Integration (1960-1980)
    • Current (1980-present)
foundation phase 1800 1930
Foundation Phase1800-1930
  • Emphasis on brain research
      • Hinshelwood-“word blindness”, brain defect
      • Goldstein- behavioral and perceptual impairments resulting from brain damage
      • Strauss & Werner- Wayne County Training School
        • Mental retardation attributed to brain damage rather than genetic factors
        • Characteristics suggested need for instructional tactics
transition phase 1930 1960
Transition Phase1930-1960
  • Emphasis on clinical study, assessment, and remediation strategies
    • Orton- cerebral dominance, dyslexia
    • Fernald- remedial programs
      • VAKT- multisensory approach to learning
    • Kephart- perceptual motor theory of learning
    • Frostig- visual perceptual skills
      • Developmental Test of Visual Perception
integration phase 1960 1980
Integration Phase(1960-1980)
  • Established disability area in US schools
    • Samuel Kirk- popularized term learning disabilities
    • Specific Learning Disabilities Act of 1969
    • Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975,PL 94-142- forerunner to IDEA
      • Bill of Rights for children with disabilities
    • Formation of The Council for Learning Disabilities
current phase 1980 present
Current Phase(1980- present)
  • Turbulent transitions and challenges
    • Movement for full inclusion
    • Culturally and linguistically diverse learners
    • Computer technology, issues and trends
    • Impact of attention deficit disorder research
    • Controversy over assessment and the use of the severe discrepancy criteria for placement
  • 2.8 million pupils ages 6-21
  • Largest category of special education, slightly less than 50% of all individuals receiving service
  • Dramatic increase since the 1970’s
    • Possible reasons
      • Ambiguous parameters
      • Increase public awareness
      • Improved diagnostic and assessment capabilities
      • High social acceptance of the label
etiology i causes
Etiology I (CAUSES)
  • Acquired trauma
    • Injury to the central nervous system
      • Prenatal- smoking, drugs, alcohol
      • Perinatal- anoxia, low birth weight, prematurity, difficult delivery, forcep trauma
      • Postnatal- high fever, stroke, concussion, TBI
etiology ii
Etiology II
  • Genetic/Hereditary Influences
    • Familiality studies are not conclusive
      • Suggest speech, reading, and language difficulties may occur in certain families but cannot eliminate the influence of environmental reasons
    • Heritability studies compare twins
      • Certain types of learning problems are more common among identical twins than fraternal twins
etiology iii
Etiology III
  • Biochemical abnormalities
    • Fiengold theory- proposed that allergic reaction to food products contributed to hyperactive behavior; not substantiated within the scientific community
    • Cott’s megavitamin theory- learning disability resulting from vitamin deficiency; not substantiated by scientific community
etiology iv
Etiology IV
  • Environmental possibilities
    • Contributing to brain development
      • Low socioeconomic status
      • Malnutrition
      • Lack of access to health care
    • Quality of instruction
      • Poor teachers and inadequate instruction
      • Lack of direct systematic instruction
characteristics lerner 2000
Characteristics (Lerner, 2000)
  • Disorders of attention
  • Poor motor abilities
  • Psychological process deficits
  • Information/processing problems **
  • Oral language difficulties
  • Reading and written language difficulties
  • Quantitative disorders
  • Social skill deficits
information processing problems
Information Processing Problems*
  • Visual processing
    • Visual discrimination “d” “b” “p”, “m” “w’”
    • Visual sequencing “135” “153”
    • Visual tracking (follow a line)
    • Visual figure-ground (foreground/background)
    • Visual spatial abilities (aligning lines in space)
    • Visual memory (retaining what was just seen)
    • Visual motor integration (control movements to match what your eyes see)
information processing cont
Information Processing, cont
  • Auditory processing
    • Auditory discrimination (ability to tell one sound from another “d” from “t”
    • Auditory sequencing (sounds in order – aminals
    • Auditory closure (ability to blend sounds)
    • Auditory figure/ground (tune in to relevant, tune out background noise)
    • Auditory memory (retain what is heard)
learning disabilities have you seen this child
Learning Disabilities – Have you seen this child?
  • Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Written language
  • Spoken language
  • Short term memory
  • Working memory
  • Metacognition
  • Attributions
disability in reading
Disability in Reading
  • Reading comprehension
    • Cannot recall facts, sequences, or main themes
  • Word recognition errors
    • Omissions, insertions, substitutions, reversals
  • Oral reading
    • Insecurity, loses place
  • Word analysis skills
    • Phonological awareness difficulties, dyslexia
disability area mathematics
Disability Area Mathematics
  • Computation skills
  • Word problems
  • Spatial relationships
  • Writing or copying shapes
  • Telling time
  • Understanding fractions/decimals
  • Measuring
disability in written language
Disability in Written Language
  • Spelling
    • Omission or substitution of letters
    • Auditory memory and discrimination difficulties
  • Handwriting
    • Absence of fine motor skills
    • Lack of understanding of spatial relationships
  • Composition
    • Sentence structure
    • Paragraph organization
    • Complexity of stories
disability in memory
Disability in Memory
  • Short-term memory
    • Recalling in correct order, of either aurally or visually presented information shortly after hearing or seeing the items
  • Working memory
    • Retaining information while simultaneously engaging in another cognitive activity
    • Success in reading and math depend on this ability
    • Crucial for word recognition and reading comprehension
disability in spoken language
Disability in Spoken Language
  • Oral Expression
    • Word choice
    • Understanding complex sentence structures
    • Responding to questions
    • Mechanical deficits
      • Syntax, semantics, phonology
    • Pragmatics
      • Conversational skills
      • Nonverbal language
disability in metacognition
Disability in Metacognition
  • Lack of awareness of strategies and resources needed to perform effectively
  • Inability to monitor, evaluate, and adjust performance to ensure successful task completion
disability in attributions
Disability in Attributions
  • Students may attribute success to situations beyond their control such as luck rather than to their own efforts
    • Chronic failure makes success seem unattainable
    • Learned helplessness (Seligman,1992)
    • Passive learners
      • Deficits in strategic learning behaviors
situational problems
Situational Problems
  • Social and Emotional
    • Lower self-esteem, poor self-concept, social imperceptiveness, and peer rejection
  • Attention and Hyperactivity
    • Difficulty staying on task, completing assignments, and following directions
  • Norm-referenced
  • Criterion-referenced
  • Curriculum based
  • Portfolio
instructional approaches
Instructional Approaches
  • Cognitive Training
    • Self Instruction: Talk it through
    • Mnemonic Strategies: HOMES
  • Direct Instruction: Teacher-led
    • Skill training
    • Task analysis
  • Learning Strategies: How to learn new info
    • Strategies Intervention Model (SIM)
      • 1. Find best way to get, store, and use info
      • 2. Teacher alters how info is presented***
      • 3. Social skills, expressing oneself directly taught
learning strategies sequencing of solving 52 divided by 4
Learning Strategies -- Sequencing of solving 52 divided by 4***
  • Visual/Verbal: Write out in detail how to do each step; color code
  • Visual/Nonverbal: Draw a series of boxes, each with a bit of information in order
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic: Make a 3X5 card for each step; put in order
  • Auditory/Verbal: Write out steps in detail and read out loud; have someone tape record steps, and listen, self talk


Stages or steps – Forest Gump



Placements, timelines - Least to most restrictive placement; popularity of presidential candidates


Compare/Contrast Matrix

Similarities & differences between two places, people, things - - VSU ABAC



To show how a series of events perpetuates (poverty)



Attention Deficit Disorder

teaching suggestions
Teaching Suggestions
  • Highly structured environment
  • Clear expectations
  • Positive reinforcement of appropriate social skills
  • Opportunity for success
  • Supportive atmosphere
  • Safety from embarrassment
preschool curriculum models
Preschool Curriculum Models
  • Developmental/cognitive model
  • Behavioral curriculum model
  • Functional curriculum model
  • Combination approach
transition planning smith et al 1993
Transition PlanningSmith et al. (1993)
  • Preparation for high school content classes
  • Preparation for high school exiting tests
  • Counseling for daily crises
  • Preparation for independent living
  • Preparation for postsecondary training
  • Preparation for employment or military service
post secondary accommodations section 504 of pl 93 112
Post-secondary Accommodations(Section 504 of PL 93-112)
  • Adjustment in Evaluation Procedures
    • Extra time on exams
    • Distraction free setting
    • Oral examinations
  • Modifications in Program Requirements
    • Waiving or substituting courses
    • Decreasing academic load
  • Auxiliary Aid Provisions
    • Tape recording lectures, note takers
    • Assistive technology (screen readers, speech to text)
technology in the classroom
Technology in the Classroom
  • Start with curriculum, not the technology
  • Use as an instructional tool: not a toy
  • Provides guided practice and immediate feedback
  • Customize technology to the student’s needs
  • Use to enrich and extend the curriculum
  • Provide opportunity and encouragement to practice using technology to empower and achieve greater levels of independence
trends issues and controversies
Trends, Issues, and Controversies
  • The full inclusion movement verses a continuum of services model
  • Goals 2000, Educate America Act, 1994 has created trends for higher graduation standards as well as greater teacher accountability for student performance
  • 1997 IDEA inclusion of students with disabilities in state and district-wide assessments
  • Impact of the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004