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Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities

Introduction A learning disability is a neurological disorder. In simple terms, a learning disability results from a difference in the way a person's brain is "wired." Children with learning disabilities are as smart or smarter than their peers. But they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.

Historical background : 1887 German physician Rudolf Berlin refines our definition of reading problems, using the term "dyslexia"; to describe a "very great difficulty in interpreting written or printed symbols.";1895 Ophthalmologist James Hinshelwood describes in medical journal, The Lancet, the case of acquired word blindness, where a 58 year old man awoke one morning to discover that he could no longer read. Hinshelwood continued to study word blindness in children, and recognized the need for early identification of these children by teachers.1905 The first U.S. report of childhood reading difficulties is published by Cleveland ophthalmologist Dr. W.E. Bruner.1969 Congress passes the Children with Specific Learning Disabilities Act, which is included in the Education of the Handicapped Act of 1970. This is the first time federal law mandates support services for students with learning disabilities.1987 A report released by the Interagency Committee on Learning Disabilities calls for the establishment of Centers for the Study of Learning and Attention, whose sole purpose is to expand research and understanding of this issue.1990 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) The term 'disability' replaces 'handicap,' and the new law requires transition services for students. Autism and traumatic brain injury are added to the eligibility list.2005 Dr. Jeffrey Gruen and his research team at Yale University identified a gene that had patterns and variations that were strongly associated with dyslexia.

Types of Learning DisabilitiesAuditory Processing Disorder (APD)DyscalculiaDyslexiaNonverbal Learning DisabilitiesVisual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder.This is a condition that adversely affects how sound that travels unimpeded through the ear is processed or interpreted by the brain. Individuals with APD do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. They can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, to make sense of the order of sounds, or to block out competing background noises.

Symptoms: Doesnt like being read to. Seems to hear, but not listen. Get tripped up by words (e.g: mispronouncing words, confuses similar-sounding words or speech delay).

Has poor conversation skills. Hates loud Noises. Keep forgetting things due to the fact that they find it difficult to recall information theyve heard.

DyscalculiaA specific learning disability that affects a person's ability to understand numbers and learn math facts.Individuals with this type of LD may also have poor comprehension of math symbols.They may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or have trouble with counting.

Symptoms: Established by research: Delay in counting. Delay in using counting strategies for addition, they tend to use inefficient techniques and strategies for calculating addition facts. Difficulties in memorizing arithmetic facts. Some other symptoms that are likely to be: Difficulty imagining a mental number line. Difficulty using finger counting . Difficulty understanding place value.

A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language -based processing skills. The severity can differ in each individual but can affect:reading fluencyDecodingreading comprehensionRecallWritingSpellingspeech It can exist along with other related disorders. Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a Language -Based Learning Disability.Dyslexia

Symptoms: Speech problems (such as not being able to pronounce long words properly). Struggling to learn sequences (such as the days of the week). Little understanding or appreciation of rhyming words. Spelling that is unpredictable and inconsistent. Confusing the order of letters in words. Answering questions well orally but having difficulties writing the answers down.Problems learning the names and sounds of letters.

Nonverbal Learning DisabilitiesA disorder which is usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual- spatial and social skills.Typically, an individual with NLD (or NVLD) has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language, and may have poor coordination.

Symptoms:Asks a lot of questions.Talks like a mini-grownup.Does not like to explore. Seems clumsy. Misses the point. Shares endless information. Does not get humor or sarcasm. Hates change.

Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor DeficitA disorder that affects the understanding of information that a person sees, or the ability to draw or copy. A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities such as Dysgraphia or Nonverbal LD, it can result in:Missing subtle differences in shapes or printed lettersLosing place frequentlyStruggles with cuttingHolding pencil too tightlyPoor eye/hand coordination.

Symptoms Seems clumsy due to the fact that they have trouble figuring out how close/far they are from objects and people . Seems to be All Thumbs (struggling with activities that use fine motor skills). Confuses similarly shaped letters and numbers. Has lots of difficulty writing. Cannot focus. Has trouble reading.

Causes Genes and Heredity

learning disabilities often run in the family. Children with learning disabilities are likely to have parents or other relatives with difficulties.Studies found a child with dyscalculia often has a parent or sibling with similar math issues.There may also be a genetic link with dysgraphia running in families.

Brain InjuryStudies show that injury to certain parts of the brain can result in what researchers call ''acquired dyscalculia.''Acquired dyslexia or alexia maybe caused by brain damage due to stroke.Dysgraphia can result from brain damage, either from an accident, a severe stroke, or the existence of Alzheimer's disease.

Illness or injury during or before birth.Low birth weight, lack of oxygen.Drug and alcohol use during pregnancy.Problems during pregnancy and birth

Diagnosis of learning disabilitiesWell Trained personnel can diagnose it such as:Clinical psychologistSchool psychologistEducational psychologistDevelopmental psychologistNeuropsychologistPsychometricsOccupational Therapist

The LDDI inventory helps professionals identify learning disabilities in children ages 8 to 17, and reveals the extent to which skill patterns in a particular area (e.g., reading or writing) are consistent with those of individuals known to have a learning disability in that area (e.g., dyslexia or dysgraphia).The items represent specific observable behaviors associated with LD inListeningSpeakingReadingWritingMathematicsReasoning

Age Range:Identify learning disabilities in children age 8 to 17.Time Period:The LDDI can be completed in 10 minutes by a teacher or speech-language pathologist who is familiar with the student's skills.

LDDI ScoringRaw ScoresTotal number of points rated for each scale; which helps in finding out stanines.

StaninesStanines are converted from raw scores using the tables in an appendix.Identify the likelihood of intrinsic processing disorders in the six areas assessed by the LDDI


percentile ranks represents values that indicate the percentage of the distribution of a representative sample of individuals of the same age groupLDDI LimitationsThe LDDI is limited to a single language which is English, this limits non english speaking children to be able to take the testThe test is rated by the examiners so there is no measurable score that can be compared against other children's scores; It is opinion based and varies between each examiner.

LDDI PrecautionThe examiner should focus on the child during the assessment to ensure a proper rating.The area should be well lit and the seating comfortable for the child.The room should be quiet to avoid all potential distractions and interruptions as the LDDI has a listening section.The scale should not be used as basis for planning individual instructional program.

Treatments1.Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)Explain by pictures rather than words.Use different pitch and tone of voice.Ask them if they understand.Give them time to think and respond.2.DyscalculiaAllow use of fingers.Explain math concepts using diagrams.Use colored pencils to differentiate problemsTeach math facts By using rhythm and music( memory aids). 3.DyslexiaProvide quiet area for reading activities.Use big spaces between lines.Use multi-sensory teaching methods.

stress key words


4.Nonverbal Learning DisabilitiesVerbally point out similarities, differences and connections.Dont assume child understands something by parroting back what youve said.Offer additional verbal explanations when the child seems lost or confused.5.Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor DeficitProvide tracking tools: ruler, text windowsUse large print books.

Learning disability VS. Learning difficulty

Difficulty = obstacleDisability = something that incapacitatesLearning disability and Learning difficulty both refer to weaknesses in learning skills. Learning disability is significant, lifelong condition, where learning difficulty is just a problem that affect


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