Learning and Learning Disabilities Definition Determination Related Aspects in the Classroom
People should not be identified as learning disabled until a proper attempt at instruction has been made
Types of Learning Disabilities: • Reading Disability, best known and researched as “dyslexia” • Language Disability • Math Disability • Written Language Disability • So-called “non-verbal” Disability
IDEA definition • 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 may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.
Definition, continued The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, Minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, emotional disturbance, mental retardation, or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage. Note: This definition has been called a definition of exclusion. Rather than telling us what a learning disability is, it tells us what it is not.
Areas of Functioning SEVERE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN ACHIEVEMENT AND INTELLECTUAL ABILITY IN ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS: AREAS TO BE EVALUATED: DISABILITY AREAS: • Oral expression • Listening comprehension • Written expression • Basic reading skills • Reading comprehension • Mathematics calculation • Mathematics reasoning • Capacity • Achievement • Medical • Emotional • Processing
NATIONAL JOINT COMMITTEE FOR LEARNING DISABILITY DEFINITION • Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the 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 system dysfunction. Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g. sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance) or environmental influences (e.g. cultural differences, insufficient-inappropriate instruction, psycho-genic factors), it is not the direct result of those conditions or influences.
Not concerned exclusively with children Avoids the phrase “basic psychological processes” which has been controversial Spelling is not included because it is logically subsumed under writing Avoids mentioning ill-defined conditions (mbd, perceptual handicaps, dyslexia) Clearly states that LD can occur concomitantly with other disabilities Advantages
Probable Causes ORGANIC, BIOLOGIC & GENETIC FACTORS Is brain injury at the root of LD? Or do individuals with LD just learn differently? Certain types of LD tend to run in families. Twin studies have supported certain inherited types of LD, particularly in reading. ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS This area presents a special dilemma. Disadvantaged children are more likely to exhibit learning problems but the definition forces us to rule this out as a cause.
“Old” Determination of LD IQ Score = 100 15 pt. “Gap” Reading Score = 87 = NO Reading Disability Reading Score = 85 = Reading Disability
Shaywitz-Fletcher Data on Discrepancy Model • No validity to the distinction between discrepancy-based and other poor readers • Other studies have found the same results…no difference between discrepancy-based and other poor readers; all have poor phonological skills (THIS REPRESENTS A DECADE OF RESEARCH)
LEARNING DISABILITY (LD 1) • Problems with Educational Definition • Which academic skill test is valid? • What if the child is being tutored? (“Swimming with a life jacket on”)
LEARNING DISABILITY (LD 2) • Neurological Definition • A selective or specific aspect of cognition is impaired and produces as one of its outcomes poor academic performance • “Book” learning is not only outcome of interest (e.g., social LD)
LEARNING DISABILITY (LD 2) • Problems with Neurological Definition • Not accepted by schools or laws • Norms for selective/specific cognitive modules not as extensive or reliable as educational tests • Expert evaluation, expensive and lengthy, needed to diagnose
DSM-IV Definition Learning Disorders are diagnosed when the individual’s achievement on individually administered, standardized tests in reading, mathematics, or written expression is substantially below that expected for age, schooling, and level of intelligence. The learning problems significantly interfere with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require reading, mathematical, or writing skills. A variety of statistical approaches can be used to establish that a discrepancy is significant.
DSM-IV Definition (cont’d) Substantially belowis usually defined as a discrepancy of more than 2 standard deviations between achievement and IQ. A smaller discrepancy between achievement and IQ (i.e., between 1 and 2 standard deviations) is sometimes used, especially in cases where an individual’s performance on an IQ test may have been compromised by an associated disorder in cognitive processing, a comorbid mental disorder or a general medical condition, or the individual’s ethnic or cultural background. If a sensory deficit is present, the learning difficulties must be in excess of those usually associated with the deficit. Learning Disorders may persist into adulthood.
DSM-IV Definition (cont’d) • This approach to learning disabilities results in the specification of the following Learning Disorders: • 315.00 Reading Disorder • 315.1 Mathematics Disorder • 315.2 Disorder of Written Expression • 315.9 Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Methods Used in Schools • Statistically Significant Discrepancy • Most school systems have traditionally used some form of discrepancy formula to determine a statistically significant difference between a student’s potential to learn and his actual achievement in the classroom
How is a significant discrepancy determined? • Schools generally use a variety of statistical formulae to estimate discrepancy • These have all been found inadequate in their ability to discriminate students with LD from low achievers • Regression models under-identify students of higher IQ and over-identify those with lower IQs • When any two test scores are used for this purpose, there is measurement error (no single score can capture a student’s true performance) • Many feel this puts the field of LD on less than scientific footing
Wait to Fail Model • “Gatekeeper” for eligibility has been IQ and Achievement Testing • BUT… • Testing doesn’t occur until extended failure (usually in 2nd or 3rd grade) • We wait for children to achieve a significant discrepancy before we identify
Task Force Findings… • There is little empirical support for test-based discrepancy models in identification of students with LD • So where do we go from here? • IDEA 2004 gives states the option to move away from this model and permission to move toward a Response to Intervention model
IDEA 2004 Changes in Requirements • Local School Systems are not required to consider a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in the 7 areas • LSS may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures
Response to Intervention Model • Identification/eligibility of LD based on low achievement • Application of exclusionary criteria • Failure to respond to intervention • With establishment of a priori criteria for success and maximum amount of time for supplemental instruction, it is possible to use model to identify students who could be considered in need of special education.
Title I Teacher Nomination n=76 After Testing Qualifiers n=54 N=45 (9 out ‘other’) “Early Exit n=10” 10 weeks instruction “Mid Exit n=14” 10 weeks instruction “Late Exit n=10” “No Exit =11” Response to Treatment: Implementation Example 10 weeks instruction
Please note… • The determination of the length of time an intervention may be used to measure the response of the student may vary. • Response to intervention may be use to improve academic as well as behavioral responses.
NEUROBIOLOGY • Genetic Factors • Brain Structure and Function CORE COGNITIVE PROCESSES (e.g., phonemic awareness) ACADEMIC SKILLS DEFICITS (e.g., word recognition) BEHAVIORAL/PSYCHO-SOCIAL FACTORS (e.g., attention, anxiety, motivation) • ENVIRONMENT • Socioeconomic • Schooling • Intervention Figure: Framework representing different sources of variability that influence academic outcomes, the primary manifestations of the disability, in children with LDs.
Neurological/Neuropsychological Definition of LD: • A selective or specific aspect of cognition (“processing”) is impaired and produces as one of its outcomes poor academic performance • “Book” learning is not only outcome of interest (e.g., social LD)
LD type Reading disability Reading disability Reading disability Mathematics disability Written expression disability Component academic deficits Word recognition & spelling Comprehension Fluency & automaticity Computations, problem solving Handwriting, spelling, and/or composition Subgroups Forming a Hypothetical Classification of LD(research of Fletcher; Olson)
Reading Disability (Dyslexia): A specific case illustrating the lack of validity of the IQ/Achievement Method of Diagnosing LD
Reading Disability/Dyslexia Basic Facts (I) • Dyslexia affects 10 million children • 15-20% of the school-age population (research) • Approximately 5% identified in schools • Four times as many boys are identified as girls • Research findings indicate that equal number of girls are actually dyslexic, but are not identified.
Reading Disability/Dyslexia Basic Facts (II) • One out of five children has difficulty learning how to read. • Connecticut Longitudinal Study data shows 20% of children had difficulty with reading in third grade, 74% of that 20% still had difficulty with reading in 9th grade. • ADHD very often co-occurs
Reading Disability (Dyslexia) • Problems With… • Decoding of single words • Rapid retrieval • Phonological Awareness • Phonological Memory
Assumption… Through prior research, the assumption was made that as decoding improved, comprehension skills would naturally follow. This may account for the fact that there is more research on phonological processes and less on the processes related to comprehension in reading.
Phonological Awareness and Memory Tests • Say “cat” without the /k/ sound (elision) • Rhyming • Non-word repetition • Repeating series of digits
Rapid Automatized Naming: A Test Used to Measure Rapid Retrieval, orA “Visual-Verbal” Connection o a s d p a o s p d s d a p d o a p s o a o s a s d p o d a d s p o d s a s o p s a d p a p o a p s
But..Dyslexia May Have Several Subtypes: • Double-deficit hypothesis • Phonological awareness deficit • Rapid Retrieval (rate) related deficit • “Awareness” raises issues of Executive Function • Rapid Naming (rate) related deficit is complex!
The Double-Deficit Hypothesis:Wolf, Bowers, and Colleagues Four types of readers:
What are the Boundaries of Dyslexia? • Do expressive or receptive language disorders coexist? • Do deficits in Executive Function coexist? • Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) present?
Reading is the tip of the “Language Iceberg”—the phonological level at the surface
Reading: The tip of the iceberg Phonology Syntax Syntax Semantics Pragmatics
Broad/deep language disorder involving semantics and syntax impairs school learning even when reading per se is remediatedRemember the session on Language Impairments
After learning to read, reading to learn 1st-2nd grade Learning to read After 3rd Reading to learn
Deficits in Reading Comprehension • Poor comprehenders, even with good decoding and phonological skills, are impaired on: • Vocabulary • Verbal working memory • Syntax • Inferential thinking • Finding main idea • Self-monitoring
Reading Comprehension: • Other language skills, besides phonology important: • Syntax • Semantics • Executive Function • Ability to organize information, self-monitor, find the main idea
Difficulty with Reading Comprehension Decoding (especially younger students) younger children) Executive Function Function Language
What is Executive Function? • Ability to plan, organize, monitor, sequence; “higher-level” skills • Deficits of Executive Function are thought to arise from abnormalities in frontal lobe functioning • Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have been found to have deficits in Executive Function
Important features of Executive Function spatial interpersonal impulse control verbal organization musical and artistic judgment problem solving intrapersonal
Our endowments are not equal, however“the rock star” spatial musical and artistic impulse control judgment verbal organization problem solving intrapersonal interpersonal This is why he has an agent and a lawyer
EF Popularized As Neuropsychology of ADHD • Executive Function (EF) is domain of direct interest, implicates “Frontal” circuits • Barkley’s book explains that all Efs flow (linearly, developmentally) from the primary one, INHIBITION • Others view INHIBITION and RESPONSE PREPARATION as “two sides of the same coin” • Add “Sustain,” “Initiate” and “Shift”